Green Gavel

Green Gavel is an occasional series of stories about court decisions affecting the Great Lakes environment.

Recent Stories

Trial to begin in Michigan asbestos case


A jury trial is scheduled to begin April 29 on asbestos-related criminal charges stemming from the conversion of a former Bay City. Mich., church into a charter school. Roy Bradley Sr. and Gerald Essex are accused of violating the Clean Air Act by failing to properly handle, remove and dispose of material containing asbestos on the Bay City Academy project. The charter school has more than 500 students from kindergarten through 9th grade at the former church and two other buildings. Bradley was in charge of the project and Essex was the foreman supervising demolition and renovation activity at the site between August 2010 and September 2011, according to court documents. Continue Reading →

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Landowner off the hook for Superfund clean up in New York

Track excavators were used to construct a containment cell: Image: New York Department of Environmental Conservation

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals  ruled that the landowner had fulfilled all its responsibilities under the Superfund law – officially called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or CERCLA. The decision apparently leaves the subcontractor that hauled away the contaminated soil out of luck. Here’s what happened, according to legal documents:

Norampac Industries Inc. discovered that property it owned in Cheektowaga, near Buffalo, was polluted with lead and other contaminants. It negotiated a brownfield cleanup agreement with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in 2006. Company lawyer John Horn of Buffalo said the property known as the N.L. Industries site had been used for brass foundry and smelting operations and for processing an alloy of tin, copper and antimony from 1892 until 1972. Continue Reading →

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Convicted sewage dumper loses another court challenge


By Eric FreedmanGreat Lakes EchoA federal judge in Detroit has rejected a challenge to a former landlord’s conviction for illegally dumping an estimated 107,000 gallons of raw sewage into Southeast Michigan’s Huron River. U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland rebuffed an effort by David Kircher to overturn his 2006 conviction for violating Michigan’s Natural Resources and Protection Act in a way that “substantially endangers” the public. He was sentenced to five years in state prison and fined $1 million. Earlier, the state Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and sentence. The case arose from an October 2004 incident when sewage backed up at the Eastern Highlands apartment complex that Kircher then owned in Ypsilanti Township near Ann Arbor. Continue Reading →

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