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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

Client Sues ACE Group over Superfund Cleanup Denial

September 18th, 2013 - A Seattle industrial company that’s locked into a long-running effort to cleanse a river next to its facility has sued Illinois Union Insurance Co. to get it to shoulder some of the remediation expenses.

The Jorgensen Forge Corp. said that the ACE Group unit has “refused to accept its obligation” to provide coverage for environmental claims tied to the Lower Duwamish Waterway. That is a 5-mile stretch of the Green River that empties into Elliott Bay in Seattle and has been declared a federal Superfund environmental site in 2001.

Jorgensen, of Tukwila, Washington, did not state the nature of the alleged denial by Illinois Union. But it said it is due coverage under terms of a global premises pollution liability insurance policy that Illinois Union sold to the company covering a period between July 31st, 2008 and July 31st, 2015. Jorgensen said that the policy extended coverage to pollution conditions that may have arisen before the policy period commenced.

Jorgensen is under both state and federal orders to remediate polychlorinated biphenyls - PCBs - from contaminated soil at the site. Two Native American tribes also have accused the company of damaging natural resources.

Jorgensen said that it has actual and potential environmental liability for the site.  It said it will incur substantial costs associated with the pollution.

A cleanup plan is currently being evaluated by the public and environmental officials. The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition estimates that it take 17 years to clean the river and cost as much as $800 million to the cited industries that straddle the waterway. Meanwhile, salmon is the only fish out of all those available in the area that is labeled as fit for human consumption.

Jorgensen asked a federal district court in Seattle to declare that Illinois Union is in breach of its contract and owes it a duty to defend and indemnify its client.

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