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US EPA sets strict limits on toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

On April 10, 2024 US EPA finalized new limits on several toxic PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl) compounds in drinking water. The rule is the first national drinking water standard for PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment.  PFAS have been linked to several diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer, lower birthweight, higher cholesterol, lower immune response to vaccines, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and changes in liver function. They have been used in common products, including nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, food packaging, clothing, and carpets. EPA officials said the tough new limits for six of the most common PFAS will reduce exposure to the compounds for 100 million people and prevent thousands of illnesses.

Read more: Associated Press, Biden administration imposes first-ever national drinking water limits on toxic PFAS, April 10, 2024

US EPA moves to restore Air Nuisance Rule; public comments due April 24, 2024

On February 22, the US EPA announced it intends to reinstate Ohio’s Air Nuisance Rule (ANR), a critical tool for Ohio residents and communities that the agency removed from Ohio’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) to enforce the Clean Air Act in 2020. If the agency’s proposed action is finalized after a 60-day public comment period, Ohio residents will once again be able to directly protect their health and property by using the ANR.

In announcing its proposed action, US EPA cited the facts and the law AltmanNewman urged the federal government to use to reject the illegal removal of the ANR from the SIP. That illegal removal four years ago has deprived Ohioans of their best tool to fight air pollution.

Despite this huge victory, the fight is not over. Now, we must let USEPA know the importance and value of the ANR for Ohioans before the public comment period ends on April 24. Click here to learn more about what led to the removal of the ANR and how you can help ensure that Ohio residents and communities are once again able to hold polluters accountable when our government won’t.

Click here to file comments via, EPA’s preferred method for receiving comments. Click here for suggested talking points.

Local officials, concerned about contamination at former Beckjord site, work to bring urgency to federal case on cleanup (2023)

In a September ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett refused to dismiss the case against the former power plant site’s current owner, St. Louis-based Commercial Liability Partners (CLP), for violating federal environmental law. The case was filed by AltmanNewman on behalf of Neighbors Opposed to Pit Expansion (NOPE), a group of local residents.

AltmanNewman President Dave Altman told WCPO’s I-Team, “The contamination of a vast area of Clermont County in this case — whether it’s going to be cleaned up, or whether it’s going to be covered up — is at stake.” Pierce Township Trustee Allen Freeman told WCPO that he is hoping for a trial date soon; 294 acres of the site have already been sold, and no one knows what is planned for development there.  Scott Doran, Clermont County’s attorney on environmental matters, said in a statement that he hopes the court will “assure that coal ash does not continue to contaminate groundwater, threaten public drinking water supplies and present a nuisance to the community.”

Read the full WCPO story here: WCPO, Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit from neighbors worried about contamination at former Beckjord site, October 30, 2023

Sierra Club leader Marilyn Wall is one of the Enquirer’s 2023 Women of the Year

AltmanNewman was thrilled to celebrate with longtime Sierra Club leader and AltmanNewman client Marilyn Wall at the Cincinnati Enquirer’s 2023 Women of the Year luncheon on October 19, honoring Marilyn and nine other exceptional area women for their work in our community. Read about Marilyn’s work — including her decades-long efforts to prevent sewers from backing up into people’s homes and to stop dangerous emissions from the Cleveland-Cliffs (formerly AK Steel) plant in Middletown — to make our region’s air and water cleaner:

(Marilyn is in the front row, third from left; photo courtesy of Brewster Rhoads.)

Sixth Circuit orders EPA to reconsider removal of vital tool for Ohioans exposed to air pollution (2023)

On February 10, 2023, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to reconsider its 2020 rollback of Ohio’s Air Nuisance Rule, an essential tool for Ohio citizens who live near air pollution sources.

AltmanNewman President Dave Altman, who argued the case on behalf of Marilyn Wall and Donna Ballinger, praised the ruling and urged EPA to reinstate the provision to help neighbors of polluting sites. “For about 50 years, this was a tool that Ohio citizens had and used, and we used it on behalf of a lot of them. It needs to be returned, and the faster that can happen the better. That tool is now missing for the people who need it most,” Altman said. (Law360, 6th Circuit sends EPA rule cut back for consideration, February 10, 2023)

AltmanNewman represents Donna Ballinger, a fenceline neighbor of the Cleveland Cliffs (formerly AK Steel) Middletown plant, and Sierra Club leader Marilyn Wall. Joined by Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council, Ballinger and Wall petitioned the Sixth Circuit to review EPA’s November 2020 removal of the state’s Air Nuisance Rule from Ohio’s Clean Air Act state implementation plan. The rule has been used by citizens, local governments and the state to bring claims in federal court to enforce the law and reduce air pollution harms to health and property.

In 2020 EPA removed the nuisance rule, which had been in place since 1974, using an obscure “error correction” mechanism after months of intense lobbying by a law firm representing SunCoke Energy in a securities offering. SunCoke Energy also happened to be facing a citizen suit at that time, brought by AltmanNewman on behalf of neighbors of an Ohio SunCoke Energy facility, for violating the provision.

EPA told the Sixth Circuit it expects to make a decision on whether to reinstate the rule within a year of the decision.

Read the decision here; read more about the importance of the Air Nuisance Rule to Ohio citizens and Donna Ballinger’s fight to stop pollution from the Cleveland Cliffs plant here:

Is Ohio getting enough of the right information about train derailment to protect East Palestine? (February 2023)

AltmanNewman President Dave Altman commented on state leaders’ ‘incomplete and inaccurate’ statements about the toxic train derailment and questioned whether the government is looking at all the sources of pollution from the derailment and burnoff of toxic chemicals that threaten residents of the East Palestine community. On February 18, Ohio’s U.S. Senators urged Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA to test the community for dioxins, highly toxic chemicals created by the combustion of vinyl chloride, the chemical burned off after the derailment.

AltmanNewman fights for communities and drinking water suppliers grappling with PFAS, the toxic “forever chemicals” (2022)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of thousands of manmade chemicals used to make water-, stain- and grease-repellant coatings used in a wide range of consumer  products  and industrial applications. PFAS are used in cookware, stain- and water-repellant clothing and carpets, food packaging, cleaning products, cosmetics, personal care products, and more.

Most people have been exposed to PFAS, and 99 percent of Americans have PFAS in their blood. PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down, accumulate in the human body, and remain in the environment – and people – for decades. PFAS have been linked to several serious health conditions in humans, including cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low infant birth weights, and effects on the immune system.

AltmanNewman recently filed comments on behalf of the Little Hocking Water Association urging EPA to ensure that those responsible for the PFAS pollution that has contaminated drinking water systems and communities across the country are held liable for cleanup costs. Read the comments and learn more about Little Hocking’s 20-year fight to protect its community’s water supply here.

AltmanNewman’s work resulted in long-term treatment of a heavily contaminated water supply and the first judicial finding of liability in the United States for PFAS contamination. We continue to monitor the emerging science around PFAS and are well-positioned to assist communities, environmental groups, and drinking water suppliers facing PFAS contamination.

AltmanNewman urges Sixth Circuit to allow enforceable plan to end Franklin County sewage pollution (2022)

In oral argument before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 26, 2022, AltmanNewman Vice President Justin Newman explained how a consent order between the Ohio EPA and Franklin County will still allow at least 1,700 failing home sewage treatment systems to pollute local waterways with tens of millions of gallows of raw sewage illegally. Newman urged the panel to allow a citizen suit to enforce the Clean Water Act to move forward. He urged that the citizen suit  would force compliance by going beyond mere studies and plans and actually require the elimination of the illegally discharging, unpermitted home sewage treatment systems and unpermitted sewage discharges through the county’s outfalls.

AltmanNewman recovers damages for Northside homeowners inundated by sewer project collapse (2021)

The AltmanNewman team recovered nearly $1.0 million in damages from the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) needed to restore homes and replace personal property on behalf of families in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood. The families’ homes and lives were devastated after an MSD sewer project collapsed and failed, leading to sewer backups and the inundation of the Northside neighborhood with mucky liquids from MSD’s system. The AltmanNewman effort included both informal resolution and state and federal claims filed in federal court.