Oregon Companies Pay Penalties to the EPA for Risky Asbestos Removal
The Dalles, OR -- October 10, 2007 -- Court documents released on October 1, 2007, reveal that two property rehabilitation companies from Oregon are to pay penalties of $37,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for violations of the asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (asbestos NESHAP). In May 2001, developer Cook Development Corporation (CDC) and contractor Birch Creek Construction, Inc. (BCC) seriously mismanaged a major renovation of the Commodore Apartments in The Dalles, Oregon, that required the removal and disposal of asbestos from the four story property.
In May 2006, CDC paid over $30,000 in penalties and BCC added an additional $7,500 for their mistakes. Not only is it costly to ignore procedures for asbestos removal, but it also puts the public health at risk. This is due to the large number of fibers that may be released into the air upon removal. Asbestos is a natural fiber commonly found in building materials and insulation. Exposure to this fiber can cause severe, debilitating diseases such as deadly mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
On behalf of the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, the Department of Justice filed papers in the US District Court against CDC and BCC. The complaint alleges that the two Oregon companies did not follow federal regulations that require advance written notice to the Department of Environmental Quality, an agency that administers the asbestos NESHAP program.
The EPA alleges that CDC and BCC did not provide a trained supervisor on site or document the hazardous materials being removed from the site. They did not put the asbestos material into seal tight containers and then dumped the waste into an area landfill. Asbestos-containing materials should be adequately wet during cutting or stripping of the material in order to reduce asbestos emissions, and they failed to do that as well.
"We hope that building owners, developers and contractors learn from this situation," said Socorro Rodriguez, EPA's Director of Oregon Operations. "When you are tearing down or renovating a structure that has asbestos, it is important to notify the proper authorities and follow the asbestos regulations." (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, October 1, 2007)
Brayton Purcell is concerned about the exposure of workers and the public to asbestos. We have been successfully handling asbestos litigation for over 20 years. If you have developed an asbestos-related disease, please feel free to contact us to learn about your legal options. We have offices located in the cities of Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; Novato, California; and Los Angeles, California, or you may call our toll-free number, 800-598-0314.