Environmental Law exists to protect the natural world that we live in. The need for oversight to prevent profit margins from overshadowing the need to keep the environment a clean, safe place to lead our lives has never been greater. Decaying infrastructure and outdated technologies believed to be safe in the past are coming back to bite us and proving a threat to the safety and health of many American communities. An experienced well informed environmental lawyer with the right contacts and experts at their disposal is needed to make the responsible parties take the necessary actions to keep the community safe and compensate the victims. WJD Law has vast experience in environmental litigation and a field tested team of hydrologists, laboratory consultants and various experts in their fields ready to tackle any environmental threat and bring justice and safety to the victims.

Air Contamination

Compressor Stations
a compressor station vents gasses into the atmosphere
A compressor station vents
gasses into the atmosphere
Compressor stations facilitate natural gas being transported through a gas pipeline. One every 40 to 100 miles is usually required depending on terrain. There are many serious environmental and safety concerns with compressor stations including leaks, spills, fugitive emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), as well as explosions and fire. The biggest problem is the release of VOCs and NOx, both intentionally and accidentally. VOCs and NOx that are emitted in venting to prevent blowouts, the burning of vented gases and fugitive emissions include carbon monoxide(CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), formaldehyde, benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, hydrogen disulfide,sulfur dioxide (SO2),methane (CH4), as well as other toxic substances. These emissions have been linked to early childhood mortality, childhood learning defects, environmentally-induced cancers, respiratory problems, male fertility problems, mental illness and other mortally serious conditions.
Coal fire plants
coal smokestacks
Coal plant smokestacks
By 2007 there were over 50,000 active coal plants worldwide. This number will undoubtedly increase as power demands are expected to rise 60% by 2030. More than any other fossil fuel, the combustion of coal contributes the most to acid rain and air pollution. Because of the makeup of coal, it is impractical to purify the fuel before combustion. Newer coal power plants utilize "scrubber" technologies that filter the exhaust air in smoke stacks to help reduce pollution but emission levels of various pollutants are still several times greater than natural gas power plants. A great deal of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide are released into the air. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide react with the atmosphere causing acidic compounds such as sulfurous acid, nitric acid and sulfuric acid which fall as acid rain.
The emission of particulates during coal combustion has a negative impact on public health. Case studies show that exposure to particulate matter is related to an increase of respiratory and cardiac disease. It can irritate small airways in the lungs leading to problems with chronic bronchitis, asthma and affecting the lung's ability to exchange gasses. Coal, like most sedimentary rocks, contains low levels of thorium, uranium, and other radioactive isotopes. If enough coal is burned large amounts of these substances can be released. A coal-burning power plant producing a thousand megawatts could have an uncontrolled release of as much as 5.2 metric tons per year of uranium which would contain approximately 74 pounds of uranium-235 and 12.8 metric tons per year of thorium.
Coal ash containing arsenic (which causes a variety of cancers and nerve damage) and lead produced by coal-fired power plants has been dumped at sites across 21 U.S. states, contaminating the ground water. There is no EPA regulation of coal ash disposal. It is completely state regulated and the power industry lobbies to keep it this way. In most states no testing of potable water near coal ash dump sites is required.
Coal-fueled power plant emission are also believed to be the largest source of mercury contamination in the United States, affecting streams, water supplies and wildlife. Has a Coal Fired Power Plant in your area compromised your environment or health by unsafe or illegal practices? Contact us, we might be able to help
Nuclear fuels processing plants
Reprocessing separates plutonium and uranium from the other nuclear wastes in the spent fuel from nuclear reactors. The reclaimed fuel can then be re-used.

Water Contamination

The contamination of our precious water supply is fast becoming one of the biggest threats to health and safety in the nation. With our countries' infrastructure aging and decaying ,the economy on a downturn but demand for chemical products as great as ever, failure in the containment and deployment of potentially hazardous substances is happening more frequently. More than half the population of the USA uses groundwater for drinking water, and most irrigation for agriculture comes from groundwater and runoff. Oil and gas products, pesticides, fertilizers, road salt, toxic substances from mining sites, and and other contaminants from landfills and septic systems frequently find their way into groundwater and aquifers. Hepatitis and dysentery can be caused by contamination from septic tank waste. Long term exposure to even small amounts of carcinogenic and toxic substances can have very serious health problems for people and wildlife. It is believed that over 20,000 abandoned, uncontrolled hazardous waste sites that can lead to groundwater contamination exist in the United states alone. Landfills should have a barrier to prevent contaminants from from leaching into the ground, but if the barrier is compromised or the precaution was ignored, many acids and toxic substances can find their way into the groundwater. Pesticides, herbicides, road salts, contaminants from burned toxic substances that come down in rain, all are contributors to defiling the precious water supply which fuels the circle of life.
Underground Storage Tanks
Over a half-million underground storage tanks across the country store hazardous substances and petroleum. Almost half of the country is at risk of having their drinking water contaminated if a tank becomes corrupted. A large number of the tanks go without regular inspection and are still in use even though they are old, inferiorly engineered and made without the use of modern safeguards.
Above Ground Storage Tanks
Above ground storage tanks, used to store many different types of petroleum and hazardous chemicals, can be a serious threat to the environment if left unregulated or uninspected. They are not as big a problem as UGST's, simply because visual inspection can reveal leaks or corruptions, however spills and releases still happen more frequently than you would think due to the aging industrial infrastructure of the chemical and petroleum industries.
Oil and Gas Drilling
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a controversial method for increasing the ouput and lifespan of various types of wells. Highly pressurized liquid, usually water and a mixture of chemicals, containing sand or other coarse particles is pumped into a wellbore in order to crack and prop open deep-rock formations. When the hydraulic fluid is removed the particles hold open the cracks, allowing the product to flow more freely through the rock. In recent years the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing has become a high profile issue. The negative impacts of fracking on local eco-systems are believed to include ground water contamination, fresh water depletion, poor air quality and increased seismic activity. Air pollution from from fracking is attributed to methane leaks originating from wells as well as exhaust emmisions from the equipment. Well casing failures and wellbores can leak methane into groundwater aquifers contaminating local water sources for communities that rely on well water. Typical chemical additives to fracturing fluids can include hydrochloric acid or acetic acid Sodium chloride, Polyacrylamide (lubricant) Ethylene glycol (corrosion preventative), Borate salts (anti-freeze), Sodium and potassium carbonates, Glutaraldehyde (disinfectant), gelling agents like Guar gum to thicken the fluid, Citric acid (corrosion preventative), Isopropanol, methanol, and 2-butoxyethanol. Rural roads often suffer damage by the heavy trucks and equipment used in hydraulic fracturing. The drilling companies are usually obligated to repair the damage, but as with all things these days it is done with an eye toward cost, not quality.
Pipe Line Breaks
Aging inferior pipes carrying petroleum and gas are everywhere across the US. Efforts to replace and repair dangerous and compromised pipe networks is minimal, and often nothing is done until breaks and spills occur, at which point it is too late to prevent the environmental impact.
Dry Cleaning Chemicals
PCE or tetrachloroethylene (or perchloroethylene) is a chlorocarbon with the formula Cl2C=CCl2. Commonly known as "PERC" it is a colorless liquid used as dry-cleaning fluid and metal degreaser due to it's properties as a volatile, highly stable, and nonflammable solvent for organic materials. Tetrachloroethylene is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen (probably carcinogenic to humans) and shares the characteristics of most chlorinated hydrocarbons of being a central nervous system depressant and skin irritant that enters the body through respiratory or dermal exposure. Tetrachloroethylene exposure can be detected with a breath test for weeks following a heavy exposure because it accumulates in body fat and is released in to the blood as the fat is burned. Due to widespread use PCE is a common soil contaminant, and because it's liquid state is heavier than water, cleanup is difficult. It has, however, been successfully remediated by chemical treatment or bioremediation. Due to it's volitility most tetrachloroethylene winds up in the air and takes 5–6 months to degrade into phosgene, trichloroacetyl chloride, hydrogen chloride, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.
Landfills
Landfills are becoming a more pervasive problem to air soil and water contamination as the number of them continues to grow and the protective barriers between the fill and the ground underneath continues to deteriorate. Leachates is the name for the liquid that permeates the soil from a landfill ,and even though most municipal landfills state that toxic substances are not allowed (legally) many are contaminated with large quantities of toxins and substances which max mix to form or deteriorate into toxins. Many landfills are located near waterways and swamps making it more likely for contaminants to permeate aquifers and make their way into the environmental chain inhabited by people.

Soil Contamination

Property Damage
Spills
Accolades
  • The Henry M. Feldschuh Environmental Law Award
  • The White Plains Bar Association Outstanding Clinical Award
  • Pace University School of Law Excellence in Clinical Education Award
  • Toxic Victims Access to Justice Coalition Service Award
  • Super Lawyer - Environmental Law 2013, 2014, 2015