Covering Cleanup Costs Webinar

The most recent lecture in our Moos Family Speaker Series on May 13, proved to be a highly informative discussion on how toxic runoff can enter our waters and efforts to hold the polluters accountable. Dr. Valery Forbes, Dean of the College of Biological Sciences and Freshwater Board Member, expertly hosted the event with its new online platform and shorter format. We featured a panel of experts: Robin Greenwald, Esq., head of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit; Randy Neprash, Stormwater Regulatory Specialist, Stantec Consulting and Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition, and Dr. Matt Simcik, Associate Professor, UMN Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

Coal tar sealants were commonly applied to asphalt driveways and parking lots until they were banned by the Minnesota Legislature in 2014. Courtesy of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Robin is a renowned environmental and consumer class action attorney and has been involved with helping seven metro-area cities hold the companies that refine coal tar sealants accountable for the cleanup costs of their stormwater ponds. Contaminants that wash off from pavement sealants ended up in the ponds, turning the sediment into hazardous waste. The burden to clean it up was either going to be on the taxpayer or the polluter.

For those who could not watch live, you can view a recording here. Matt gives an overview on PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) at about 5 min., then Randy discusses how PAHs make their way into our stormwater systems and the problems they create at 12 min., and finally, Robin explores the recent history of holding these polluters accountable at 22 min., followed by the Q&A at 40 minutes.

Next up in the Moos Family Speaker Series will be Dr. David Sedlak, again in an online platform on November 10th. He has recently started writing a book with a global water perspective and gives big picture (including TED) talks to general audiences but will be tailoring something for our Freshwater audience.  Stay tuned. He hosted a panel discussion for the National Academy of Science and Engineering on May 27, on the topic of Wastewater Monitoring for Covid-19 Surveillance and we will be following up on some of his suggestions for speakers on that fascinating and timely topic.