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DEQ Fines Oregon Hotel for Asbestos Violations

Portland, Oregon – The Oregon DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) issued a fine of $29,028 against Thunderbird Hotel (Oregon) for alleged asbestos violations. Thunderbird Hotel LLC owned the Hayden Island hotel, which has been vacant for a long time, west of Interstate V Bridge which caught fire in 2012 September.

The citations regarding asbestos violations and consequent fines come almost 10 months after the disastrous fire in North Portland. It was in last September that the Thunderbird Hotel erupted in flames. After the fire, the site was cleaned up by work crews in the followed weeks.

According to the environmental protection department, Thunderbird Hotel did not hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor prior to the demolition of the burned structures. At the time of and following the tearing down and salvage, debris containing asbestos accumulated openly in the property, the DEQ says.

A year 2006 survey discovered that the structures had asbestos material in flooring, insulation, popcorn texture, roofing, fireproofing, and other substances. The tearing down likely sent deadly asbestos fibres into the air. According to the DEQ, inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious respiratory problems and terminal illnesses including cancer.

Esther Westbrook, an environmental law specialist and policy analyst with the DEQ, said the corporations saved approximately $8000 by having crews do the tearing down, instead of hiring a licensed asbestos removal contractor to clean up the entire asbestos and asbestos-containing materials in the site. Westbrook said the companies that put profit over the safety of workers and the public should expect such punishments. He said the owner cannot claim ignorance as the operators of Thunderbird Hotel had got a report on asbestos in year 2006, which clearly mentioned where the deadly material was present on the property.

The fire on the building is still under federal investigation.

The hotel hired an authorized asbestos contractor for handling the remaining materials containing asbestos. The DEQ says it has considered this fact while determining the fine amount. Thunderbird Hotel has until 23rd July to appeal or pay the penalties.

Under the U.S. regulations, demolition or renovation of any structures containing asbestos should be done after completely removing the dangerous material because asbestos is very dangerous if it is disturbed or broken. Building owners are not allowed to simply remove asbestos by themselves or using ordinary workers. Only licensed contractors are supposed to deal with asbestos.