Executive Vice President's Desk
by Eric G. Madden
As many of you may already know, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch briefly divulged certain portions of the Administration’s plan to fund Pennsylvania’s much needed infrastructure improvements. We are still awaiting an official announcement from Governor Tom Corbett and the introduction of his plan to the General Assembly. Once that occurs, we need to keep the momentum going and to ask our legislators, business leaders and transportation advocates to support these ongoing efforts. Every day is one step closer to our ultimate goal of new revenue.
There is some movement at the federal level in regard to both surface and air transportation reauthorization bills. Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee John Mica (R-FL) has expressed his intent to move a four-year FAA Reauthorization bill out of his Committee by late December. He also has permission from the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to move a four-year Surface Reauthorization bill at current spending levels plus inflation. In the U.S. Senate, the Committee on Environment & Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) unanimously moved a two-year Surface Reauthorization bill out of her committee. Once again, people realize that to get our economy growing and to get people back to work, we need to reinvest in ourselves and our infrastructure.
From left to right: Steven B. Bolt – President ACEC/PA, Jill K. Thompson – ACEC/PA Government Affairs Committee Chair, Roger Nutt – Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO and Eric G. Madden – Executive Vice President ACEC/PA
ACEC/PA Day was a great success. The day had a great kick-off with Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Roger Nutt speaking at our Government Affairs Breakfast. The Turnpike has done an excellent job modernizing its system and improving its communications with its customers. PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Scott Christie spoke at our Central Chapter Luncheon where he mentioned the 13 new Quality Metrics upon which your firms would be measured. He also commended the hard work of the engineering community in assisting PennDOT to repair and reconstruct hundreds of bridges through the Accelerated Bridge Program. Lastly, the day was concluded with the Transportation Committee report which highlighted accomplishments of the committee and sub-committee over the past year.
As we come to the end of November, December is often a time to refocus and prepare for the New Year. At ACEC/PA we are preparing for the transition to our new association management software package and website. We hope that you will like the new look and features that will accompany our new system. It will be more user-friendly and interactive for you active users. As we re-engage our Government Affairs Breakfasts and Chapter Meetings for 2012, we anticipate that you will be able to completely register online for our February cycle of meetings. Also, for those of you constantly on the go, our new system will come with an I-Phone App. As we get closer I will be sending out instructions on how to use our new system.
It is also that time of year to be thankful for all the fortunes that have bestowed upon us. Our health, our families and our freedom (none of which come freely but are vigorously fought and earned) make us strong. I thank you all for your patience and understanding during my first six months of employment with ACEC/PA. I look forward to serving you in the months ahead.
Your staff here at ACEC/PA wishes each of you and your families a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Eric G. Madden
Executive Vice President
MARCELLUS SHALE CALLS FOR SOUND RISK MANAGEMENT
For Engineers & Construction Professionals Marcellus Shale Presents
Enticing Opportunities, But Firms Need To Weigh Risks
by Rob Hughes
Ames & Gough, Philadelphia, PA
As engineering firms and construction professionals from all parts of the country seek to capitalize on opportunities presented by the growing number of exploration and development projects in Marcellus Shale, they need to assess carefully the unique and potentially significant exposures associated with them.
With efforts to tap the substantial natural gas resources
available in Marcellus Shale continuing to expand, concerns also are
widening among area residents and municipalities with respect to the
related environmental issues. Engineering and construction firms
involved in exploration and development projects need to be able to
assess their risks with some degree of precision and take steps to
For these firms, an effective risk assessment must contemplate not only the indemnification clauses and other potential contractual exposures associated with their Marcellus Shale agreements, but federal and evolving state environmental regulations, pending and recent court decisions on Marcellus Shale issues, and the language and exclusions in their liability insurance policies.
A Myriad of Risks
The numerous and potentially substantial risks associated with natural gas operations include: craterings; explosions; uncontrollable flows of natural gas or well fluids; fires; formations with abnormal pressures; pipeline ruptures or spills; pollution; and releases of toxic natural gas and other environmental hazards and risks.
In the event any of these hazards occurs, construction and engineering firms involved in these projects could sustain substantial losses as a result of:
Injury or loss of life;
Severe damage to or destruction of property, natural resources and equipment;
Pollution or other environmental damage;
Clean-up responsibilities; and
Regulatory investigations and penalties.
Insurance Coverage Issues, Contracts and Legal Exposures
As they work to assess, manage and mitigate their potential exposures related to Marcellus Shale, engineers and construction professionals need to consider a number of issues involving insurance coverage, contractual clauses and wording, and legal and regulatory exposures, including the following:
Duty to Defend and Indemnification Clauses – Some contracts currently being offered to engineers impose broad duty to defend and indemnify obligations owing to multiple entities. The terms often stipulate that the engineer must fulfill these obligations even if it can demonstrate its innocence of any wrongdoing and where the parties the engineer is indemnifying caused the loss. Additionally, these duties typically extend beyond the scope of an engineer’s professional and general liability insurance policies; consequently, the engineers are unlikely to have insurance coverage for related liabilities.
Safety – Courts in many states, including Pennsylvania, at the heart of the Marcellus Shale boom, have held that engineers are generally not liable for site safety, unless they specifically agree to such responsibility in their contracts or assume that responsibility by their actions. In many instances, engineers sign contracts that leave them with potentially significant safety obligations, and they may not be aware of the full scope of these requirements. To an engineer, a contract that says “every person has responsibility to prevent accidents,” may be viewed as a “throw away” line trying to build a team concept on a project. To a plaintiff’s attorney that language makes the engineer responsible for site safety and liable for any accidents.
Joint and Several Liability – Joint and several liability addresses the concept of how to allocate liability when more than one defendant has caused the plaintiff’s harm. One state may follow a percentage only basis, if a party is 10% at fault they are, under any circumstances, liable to the plaintiff for only 10% of his damages. On the other hand, until earlier this year, Pennsylvania imposed joint and several liability for negligence resulting in death, personal injury and property damage. In a case where an engineer may have minimal liability, plaintiffs could still recover 100 percent of their damages against that engineer. By recently passed legislation, Pennsylvania now holds that if the defendant is less than 60% at fault, that defendant only pays its assigned percentage of responsibility, but no more. However, that limitation does not apply if the loss relates to environmental hazards (a huge concern in gas drilling – for example, the release of fracking water), in which case the liability is joint and several and the 5% at fault engineer (or contractor) can be held responsible for paying 100% of the damages.
Each state within the Marcellus region may have slight nuances to their joint and several liability law, West Virginia looks to a 30% threshold while Ohio’s is 50%. While the engineer’s (or contractor’s) insurance may cover such a loss, the engineer’s exposure often far exceeds its role and compensation on the project. Further, the loss may have a significant impact on the engineer’s ability to remain insured or to obtain coverage in the future. A $1M claim, where the engineer is 40% at fault, gives rise to a carrier paying $400,000 if that case is in Pennsylvania, but potentially the full $1M if in West Virginia. The engineer’s loss history worsens and renewal premium increases in each instance, but certainly of a much larger magnitude if by chance that accident just so happened to be in WV and not PA.
Mobile waste-water treatment units – One solution to the environmental exposures related to Marcellus Shale drilling is the use of mobile treatment facilities. Depending on an engineer’s professional liability insurance policy, the design of such facilities may or may not be covered under their policies. As a result, they need to check the policy wording carefully with their insurance advisors or legal counsel to make sure their insurance will respond to a related claim. In many instances a design or construction firm may be operating the unit (or even a traditionally built water treatment facility); after all, that’s additional revenue to the firm. Operational activities are likely not covered under a professional liability policy, but could lead to significant bodily injury or environmental losses. A contractor’s pollution policy may not respond if the unit or facility is either owned or occupied by the insured, unless it has been properly detailed to the insurance underwriter and scheduled to the policy.
Strict Liability – A legal principle which imposes liability on a party regardless of whether that party was negligent, strict liability arises where the loss is caused by what has been deemed by the courts as an “abnormally dangerous” activity. A Federal District Court in Pennsylvania, in two separate cases, but both specific to Marcellus Shale claims brought by local homeowners against drilling companies for alleged contamination, refused to dismiss causes of action based in strict liability. The defendants argued that dismissal was appropriate because well drilling activities are not “abnormally dangerous.” The Court said that Pennsylvania had not yet determined whether fracking activates should be deemed abnormally dangerous and subject to strict liability. On the other hand, the Kansas Supreme Court has held that drilling and operation of natural gas wells are not abnormally dangerous. If strict liability applies, does an engineer’s professional liability policy respond? Coverage under many professional liability insurance policies is triggered if there is a “negligent” act, error or omission, a requirement which would not have to be established in a strict liability claim.
Roadway Degradation – State and local roads are being subjected to never before seen volume of heavy truck traffic, to/from drilling sites, disposals sites, etc. Roadway degradation is inevitable, and local and state governments are relying on assurances from gas producers to restore these roads to pre-use condition. If the producer reneges or looks to others to defray some of the repair costs, likely “deep pockets” are design firms that participated in permitting, access planning and maintenance plans. Liability also exists if there is an accident on these roads and over the years highway/roadway engineers have often faced their most severe claim in the context of a roadway accident with multiple deaths or severe injuries.
Engineers and construction professionals need to recognize that processes for exploring and developing natural gas resources in Marcellus Shale are often new and cutting edge. Thus, they bring new exposures, which engineers should try to address in their contracts. For example, insist on language describing the process as “new” or “untested” and that could lead to delays or the need for change orders during the project.
At the same time, they need to work with their legal counsel to understand their potential exposures under federal and evolving state environmental regulations, and work with their insurance advisors to make sure they have adequate financial protection and that their policies will respond to the risks associated with their work. For example, some, but not all, professional liability polices include pollution coverage, but the pollution coverage may extend only to “professional” services while other policies extend the coverage to all activities (such as maintenance and construction activities).
The availability and features of professional and
pollution liability insurance policies differ by carrier. Unless
you are being properly advised by a specialized insurance professional,
you may not be getting the coverage you need with the appropriated
limits and deductibles.
As the U.S. looks for ways to address its long-term energy needs, the significant natural gas resources available in Marcellus Shale continue to gain greater attention. As states throughout the region look to participate in the opportunities presented by the development of this resource, they are also mindful of the need to protect their water resources, workers, residents and the local environment.
Companies involved in exploration and development of Marcellus Shale need to maintain effective governance over their operations and take appropriate measures to assess and manage their exposures. It is critical for firms to make sure their contractual relationships and insurance policies are structured to provide the protection they need for the exposures unique to Marcellus. With effective diligence in these matters, Marcellus Shale can fulfill its promise of providing an effective energy solution well into the future and a source of continued economic growth and prosperity for businesses, states, workers, and local citizens and communities.
RETTEW PROMOTES ENGLE AND KHAN TO VICE PRESIDENTS
LANCASTER, PA — RETTEW, a multidiscipline engineering, planning, surveying and environmental consulting firm, recently named Brian W. Engle, PE, vice president of land development and survey services and Suhail Khan, LEED® GA, vice president of technology and facilities. Engle previously served as RETTEW’s director of land development and survey services, and Khan as director of information technology.
“Brian and Suhail have done an excellent job leading their respective service areas,” said Mark P. Lauriello, PE, president, RETTEW. “As vice presidents, they will be able to better support RETTEW’s commitment to providing clients with stellar service and service delivery.”
As vice presidents, Engle and Khan are responsible for furthering RETTEW’s external collaboration and relationship-building with clients and business partners. They maintain high levels of client contact and identify ways for RETTEW to leverage its resources and strategically broaden its portfolio of services to increase client satisfaction. They are also charged with mentoring and coaching staff on effective client relationship management, and they will identify areas of expertise that RETTEW will look to develop or acquire to meet present and future needs in a wide variety of markets.
Brian W. Engle, PE
Engle is responsible for formulating strategies to grow and strengthen the land development and survey service areas in terms of garnering new key clients and identifying opportunities to broaden service offerings and markets. Engle also provides leadership and direction to the director of land development and the director of survey, and he serves as principal-in-charge for some of RETTEW’s key clients.
RETTEW welcomed Engle in 2005 as a group manager in land development, promoted him in 2009 to director of land development and earlier this year named him a shareholder. With 20 years of combined experience in private consulting and public service at the county and local levels, Engle’s background includes agricultural, municipal and civil/site engineering. His site planning and development experience includes stormwater management, erosion and sedimentation control, utility design and coordination, municipal coordination, and construction management.
A registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Maryland, Engle earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from Penn State University. He is a resident of Boiling Springs, Cumberland County, Pa.
Suhail S. Khan, LEED® GA
Khan is responsible for overseeing and providing strategic direction and leadership for the areas of technology and facilities, two support areas that have grown as a result of RETTEW’s dramatic growth. On the technology side, Khan will direct and align the strategic direction of the company's architecture, solutions and investment strategies with long-term business objectives. He is also tasked with ensuring information technology (IT) operations are effectively and efficiently managed. On the facilities side, Khan will deliver oversight and strategic direction for corporate facilities, real estate investments, vehicles, and physical infrastructure with a focus on cost-effectiveness.
Khan, a principal shareholder of the firm, has been with RETTEW for more than 15 years; he has served as director of information technology (IT) for the past 10 years. As director, he strengthened the firm’s IT support and made significant technology improvements to the firm, the most recent being the implementation of a new accounting, project administration and payroll system.
Khan has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Millersville University, and a master’s degree in information science from the Penn State University. Khan is also accredited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate (GA). He resides in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pa.
RETTEW provides engineering, transportation, environmental consulting, planning, surveying and related consulting services to a broad range of clients in the mid-Atlantic region. Beginning in 1969 as a single-person office, today RETTEW has more than 350 employees. Offices are located in Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Mechanicsburg, Pittsburgh, Schuylkill Haven and Williamsport, Pa; and Liberty and Margaretville, N.Y. For more information on any of RETTEW’s services, please call 1-800-RETTEW-5 (1-800-738-8395).
Editor’s note: Electronic images (in jpeg format) of Brian W. Engle, PE, and Suhail S. Khan, LEED® GA, are attached.
Gannett Fleming Names Vice Presidents
HARRISBURG, PA — Gannett Fleming named 13 new vice presidents.
A partner and senior project manager in the firm’s Construction Management Division, Brett A. Brenize, P.E., DBIA, is based in the firm’s corporate headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa. With nearly 20 years of experience in construction project management, Brenize manages the division’s transportation section and federal and transit infrastructure improvements. He also serves as the division’s liaison on Gannett Fleming’s Marcellus Shale Market Leadership Team.
Based in the firm’s Newton, Mass., office, Thomas P. Daley, P.E., is a senior project manager who is responsible for managing the New England Transportation Practice and for the administration and management of Gannett Fleming’s Newton office. He supervises a staff of engineers and drafters in the preparation of contract proposals and documents for a vast range of highway, bridge, civil, and transportation-related projects.
Based in the Pittsburgh and Mercer, Pa., offices, Daniel J. Goncz, P.E., serves in the Municipal Services Group and is responsible for the planning, design, permitting, bidding, and construction management of water, sewage, and stormwater projects. He serves as the engineer for several municipalities and provides professional engineering services to the public sector for sewage facilities and systems, as well as water distribution systems and storage facilities.
William M. Gough, P.E., who is based in the Harrisburg office, serves as a project manager in the firm’s Transportation Division. With more than 34 years of experience, Gough is responsible for the design, inspection, and rehabilitation of highway and railway bridges and viaducts involving multiple structures, staged construction, and tight construction schedules.
Robert A. Kline, Jr., P.E., serves as an engineering manager in the Dams and Hydraulics Section in the Harrisburg office. With more than 25 years of experience, he specializes in concrete gravity dam design and has been involved in the planning, design, and construction of more than 80 dam rehabilitation and new dam projects.
William M. Plumpton, CEP, is based in the Harrisburg office and serves as a project manager for the Environmental Management Practice. With more than 26 years of experience, Plumpton oversees the preparation of preliminary design, process management, environmental analysis, and permit applications for transportation, facility, utility, and other infrastructure projects.
Thomas B. Pursel, P.E., is a partner and senior project manager in the Construction Management Division. Pursel is based in the Harrisburg office. With nearly 20 years of industry experience, he manages water resource and dam construction projects for the firm and leads multi-million dollar facility and water system infrastructure construction efforts.
Mary C. Ross, P.E., serves as a senior transportation manager who is based in the firm’s Tampa, Fla., office. With more than 25 years of experience, she is responsible for managing and assisting the transportation staff with project management and development. She focuses on corridor studies, alternative analyses, travel demand forecasting, transportation impact analyses, long-range transportation plans, and environmental concerns.
Paul G. Schweiger, P.E., serves as an engineering manager in the Dams and Hydraulics Section based in the firm’s Harrisburg office. With more than 27 years of experience, Schweiger is responsible for water resource engineering, including managing project investigations, dam assessments, designs, and construction drawings and specifications.
With more than 22 years of experience, Jonathan W. Sink, P.E., serves as senior geotechnical manager and assistant director of operations for the firm’s Florida Geotechnical Group. Based in Largo, Fla., he manages geotechnical projects and assists with the supervision of nearly 60 geotechnical, construction materials testing, and environmental professionals.
Based in Hamilton, N.Y., L. McEwan van der Mandele, CPP, serves as the senior director of Gannett Fleming’s Security Services Group. With 29 years of experience, van der Mandele provides consulting services on security issues and physical protection system development for military, transit, municipal, and state government clients.
Scott F. Zieber, based in the Harrisburg office, is the manager of Information Technology Services for Gannett Fleming. Zieber has 23 years of experience with the firm and is responsible for planning, directing, and managing Gannett Fleming’s information technology strategies. In addition, he is responsible for addressing all internal and client-related information technology needs.
Based in the firm’s Mt. Laurel, N.J., Thomas G. Zink, P.E., has 18 years of experience with the company. Zink is the Bridge Practice manager for the firm’s Northeast Region, in addition to serving as the deputy director of transportation for its New Jersey operations. He provides direct oversight of the Bridge, Highway, and Geotechnical Design Units in the Mount Laurel office.
Gannett Fleming is a global infrastructure firm focused on planning, design, technology, and construction management services for the transportation, environmental, water, power, and facilities industries. More than 2,000 employees provide customized solutions to improve communities around the world. The firm embraces sustainability and innovation in its projects and internal activities, finding the best solutions and the most efficient processes while being responsible stewards of the environment. Founded in 1915, Gannett Fleming had $298 million in revenues in 2010, has performed work in more than 53 countries, and today has more than 60 offices around the world. We are proud to be ISO 9001:2008 Certified.
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