Eagle Environmental


16 years ago

by Bend Weekly News Sources

Companies appeal penalties

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a $7,200 penalty to WHM Enterprises, LLC, of Bend, the owner of a 10-unit apartment complex, for allowing unlicensed persons to perform an asbestos abatement project on property it owns at 502-508 S.W. Evergreen in Redmond. In a related action, DEQ has issued an $8,400 penalty to Potter Construction Inc., Bend, the company hired by WHM to renovate the apartment complex, for conducting an asbestos abatement project without being licensed as an asbestos abatement contractor.

Oregon requires training and licensing for those who perform friable asbestos abatement projects. Facility owners may allow only Oregon-licensed asbestos abatement contractors to perform asbestos abatement. Potter Construction is not licensed to conduct such projects.

During an inspection of the complex on Nov. 25, 2005, a DEQ air quality specialist identified possible asbestos-containing building materials that Potter Construction employees were removing. Laboratory analysis of samples taken by DEQ revealed that the popcorn ceiling texture contained 3% chrysotile asbestos, while vermiculite insulation contained 1.2% actinolite/tremolite asbestos.

Asbestos fibers are a respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other respiratory diseases; they also are a hazardous air contaminant for which there is no known safe level of exposure. To protect human health and the environment, state and federal laws set strict requirements on the removal, handling and disposal of material containing more than 1 percent asbestos.

As the Potter Construction employees removed the friable asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling texture and vermiculite insulation, they disposed of it in the facility’s outdoor dumpsters. This activity caused the open accumulation of asbestos- waste material, which occurs when asbestos-containing material is broken or shattered and not properly packaged to prevent it from exposure to the elements. As a result, it is likely that asbestos fibers were released into the air, exposing workers, the public and the environment to asbestos. Additionally, a licensed asbestos abatement contractor would have wet the asbestos during removal to prevent emissions of asbestos fibers into the air.

On Dec. 12, 2005, an asbestos abatement contractor completed cleanup of the site. The cleanup cost can be higher when an abatement contractor must properly abate asbestos-containing materials subsequent to interior demolition.

Both businesses have appealed their penalties.

From Greenwich Time in Connecticut

Antares Real Estate has agreed to halt renovation work at two apartment buildings after questions were raised about whether workers thoroughly checked for asbestos prior to construction, state health officials said.

“In light of those questions, renovation activities at the facility have been stopped and we are awaiting additional information about the potential presence of asbestos,” said Ron Skomro, supervisor of the asbestos program at the state Department of Public Health.

Antares spokesman Frank Marino said the Greenwich development firm believes it followed regulations governing testing for asbestos at Greenwich Place and Greenwich Oaks, formerly known as Putnam Green and Weaver’s Hill. But to clear up any doubts, the firm is cooperating with health officials and has voluntarily agreed to halt renovation until additional testing is completed, Marino said.

“Prior to the start of construction, Antares followed industry standards and used independent laboratories to test for any hazardous content,” he said.

“They had checked everything they were going to disturb in a major way, and obviously there are some that believe there is more that should be done. ... Rather than get into a dispute on was it enough or wasn’t it enough, we’re just doing the additional testing just to be safe,” Marino said.

Health officials arrived for a site visit last Thursday to investigate a complaint that flooring tiles in the complexes contained asbestos, and that renovation work might release the toxins into the air. Asbestos causes cancer.

“The older the property, the likelihood increases that there may be asbestos present in the flooring material,” Skomro said.

Asbestos is sometimes used to build certain tiles and adhesives, but it is not considered to be toxic unless the tile is broken into pieces, such as through demolition or some types of renovation work. Prior to starting their project, Antares was required to inspect the site and determine whether asbestos presented a danger.

“There’s some indication that some prior effort was done to identify asbestos material and we’re trying to identify whether those were sufficiently thorough,” Skomro said.

Antares has hired a new environmental consultant and laboratory to run several additional tests, including on 60 samples of stucco taken from the exterior of the buildings, Marino said.

“It is not considered an asbestos-latent product,” he said, adding that the results of other tests are not yet ready.

Antares’ consultant is reviewing the different units throughout the two complexes. Some apartments appear to have undergone renovation by previous property owners, while others haven’t had work done to them in decades and so could have asbestos-containing materials. The testing could take two weeks to complete.

“At this point in time, our consultant has not raised any flags,” Marino said.

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