Company fined for OSU residence hall roof goof

March 16, 2010 11:00 am  • 

Errors in removing asbestos and communicating with the state Department of Environmental Quality could cost a Portland company $8,100 in penalties for work done last fall on the roof of Reed Lodge, a residence hall at Oregon State University.

Ester Westbrook of the Department of Environmental Quality’s compliance and enforcement office in Portland, said Monday that the DEQ has charged IRS Environmental of Portland Inc. with four violations associated with the October 2009 project to remove about 2,750 square feet of cement asbestos board roofing from Reed Lodge at 2950 S.W. Jefferson Way.

The roofing material was weathered and brittle and therefore capable of becoming friable — breaking off into fibers that can become airborne and inhaled. The violations were:

• Failing to notify DEQ of a friable asbestos project at least 10 days before beginning the project, as required, resulting in a $1,500 penalty.

• Failing to adequately wet down the friable cement asbestos board roofing during removal ($2,400 penalty).

• Failing to keep the removed asbestos-containing waste material wet down after it was removed and before it was delivered to an authorized landfill ($4,200 penalty).

• Failing to package the asbestos-containing material in leak-tight plastic bags, as required, resulting in a citation but not a penalty.

The precautions are in place because asbestos fibers are considered a major respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, making it a danger to public health, for which there is no safe level of exposure, the DEQ stated in a press release.

In assessing the penalty, DEQ recognized IRS Environmental’s later efforts to correct the violations by wetting the asbestos-containing waste and properly repackaging it, and by submitting a friable asbestos project notification.

IRS Environmental of Portland Inc. appealed the penalty Feb. 11.

Westbrook said the mistakes are not uncommon in asbestos abatement and could happen simply because a certain worker might not have been thoroughly trained or supervised.

A call to the company for comment on Monday was not returned.

The fine will not be passed on to taxpayers, but is the company’s responsibility, Westbrook said.