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Aug-06-2006 22:53TweetFollow @OregonNews
DEQ Issues Fine to Oregon State Hospital For Two Asbestos ViolationsBy Barry-Lee Coyne Salem-News.com
The violations stemmed from a January 2006 excavation project in which new underground pipelines were installed on the hospital grounds and the new pipelines were to be laid beneath the existing old, asbestos-covered pipelines.
(SALEM) - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has hit the Oregon State Hospital in Salem with a $10,200, fine for two asbestos violations.
On January 18th, the DEQ received a call from the hospital’s asbestos coordinator about possible mishandling of asbestos-containing material at the excavation site.
Staff from the DEQ inspected the site that day and learned that the original work plan called for excavating the area around the old water pipelines, intersecting the new pipelines with the old underground steam and water pipelines, and laying the new pipelines under the old ones.
However, after excavating the area, the contractor, Emery & Sons Construction Inc., instead cut through the old lines with a cut-off saw, removing about nine linear feet of old piping and pipe insulation that contained high levels of asbestos.
The DEQ requires that construction work which will disturb asbestos-containing materials be performed by licensed asbestos abatement contractors; Emery & Sons is not licensed to perform asbestos abatement projects.
The Oregon State Hospital had completed an asbestos survey of its facilities in 1990 which revealed the high percentage of asbestos content in the pipe insulation on the old pipelines.
The hospital had failed to inform Emery & Sons that the old pipelines were insulated with asbestos-containing materials.
At the work site, the DEQ found high levels of asbestos and noted that the old lines were already severely deteriorated even before the excavation work began.
DEQ staff also observed asbestos insulation from the old pipelines in a pile of excavated dirt and debris next to the excavation pit, as well as asbestos insulation material still attached to old pipelines in the excavation pit itself.
Insulation materials are considered “friable,” which means they will likely release fibers into the air when disturbed.
Asbestos is a danger to public health and a hazardous air contaminant for which there is no known safe level of exposure.
Asbestos fibers are a respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Amosite asbestos, the form of asbestos found in the old pipe insulation along with chrysotile asbestos, is a particularly hazardous form of asbestos, as it is difficult to minimize amosite fiber release when the material is disturbed.
The DEQ fined Oregon State Hospital $5,100 for allowing the asbestos-containing material from the old pipeline to openly accumulate.
The material should have been labeled and packaged in leak-tight containers to prevent the release of asbestos into the air and limit the risk of public exposure to asbestos fibers. The DEQ also fined the hospital $5,100 for allowing Emery & Sons, an unlicensed asbestos abatement contractor, to perform asbestos abatement work.
In conjunction with the incident, the DEQ penalized Emery & Sons $3,600 for conducting an asbestos abatement project without being licensed.
Oregon State Hospital has until August 18th to appeal the penalty; Emery & Sons has an August 17th appeal deadline.
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