building rubble in a truck

The state of Oregon recently fined a Florida company more than $74,000 for failing to follow state guidelines pertaining to asbestos removal during the clean-up of a mobile home park near Medford ravaged by last fall’s wildfires. According to Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), crews from Tampa-based Bach Development removed and packaged asbestos-containing wildfire debris between late November through early December. The crews performed the work without an asbestos abatement license.

Bach Development workers also cleared the asbestos-containing debris from the park where 90 mobile homes remained occupied by their owners. A known carcinogen, asbestos and its fibers can cause mesothelioma, an almost always fatal cancer. Such situations illustrate the importance of protecting the health of the public and workers.

Clean-up related to Almena wildfire

The clean-up stemmed from the Almena fire that swept through parts of southern Oregon in early September. More than 1,000 mobile homes were destroyed in 18 parks. Most of the clean-up related to the wildfires is being done by state- and federal-approved contractors. However, the owners of the Medford Estates mobile home park retained Bach Development.

Oregon’s DEQ reported that after removing the debris, Bach Development workers attempted to take it to a landfill. However, the company failed to inform the landfill that its workers brought asbestos-containing material.

The incident marked the first such asbestos violation that Oregon issued stemming from last fall’s wildfires. According to reports, Bach Development has a legal contractors’ license in the state, but the company does not have a license allowing it to handle asbestos.

Once inhaled, asbestos fibers settle in the lungs and stomach, leading to mesothelioma. The disease usually does not get diagnosed for decades. Each year, mesothelioma causes the death of roughly 2,500 U.S. residents.