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Oregon DEQ fines three Bend companies

By Wanda Moore
Published On: Aug 07 2014 10:52:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 08 2014 10:01:46 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Wanda Moore talked to the DEQ about why four Oregon companies were penalized for their actions in Central Oregon.

PORTLAND, Ore. -

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has announced penalties against three Bend companies, one over hazardous waste violations, another for performing asbestos abatement without a license and a third for hiring them.

The DEQ  issued a $6,400 penalty Thursday to Agere Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for hazardous waste violations. It's a pharmaceutical research and development company at 62925 NE 18th Street.

The violations relate to the transport, labeling and safety precautions associated with hazardous materials, the agency said.

The hazardous materials were lamps containing mercury.

"Mercury can go up as a vapor and it can be inhaled and it can cause quite a lot of neurological damage," said DEQ spokesman Greg Svelund said Friday.

On numerous occasions in 2012, Agere Pharmaceuticals, Inc. transported hazardous waste without preparing a hazardous waste manifest, which identifies the type of waste during shipment, the agency said.

The company also failed to maintain copies of the manifest in its site records for six shipments of hazardous waste shipped in 2012.

The company is required to make arrangements with police, fire and emergency response teams to familiarize those agencies with the types of waste being handled at the facility, and with the hazards associated with each. But the DEQ said Agere Pharmaceuticals. made no such arrangements with those agencies.

In March, a DEQ inspection showed the company failed to properly label hazardous waste containers, some of which contained mercury, as required by state law. Agere Pharmaceutical promptly corrected the violations per DEQ’s recommendations.

DEQ said it issued the penalty because improper transport, labeling and management of hazardous wastes threatens public health and the environment.

Agere Pharmaceuticals has until August 15 to appeal the penalty.

The DEQ also has issued a $13,416 penalty to Pacific Crest Construction, Inc. for performing an asbestos abatement project without an asbestos abatement contractor’s license. The company performed the work in April at a commercial property located at 913 NE 3rd Street in Bend.

Pacific Crest Construction, Inc. removed sheet flooring, wall board and taping mud from the facility, now home to a new Laughing Planet restaurant. Lab testing on each of those materials later showed they contained asbestos.

DEQ also cited the company, without penalty, for failing to notify DEQ of the asbestos project prior to beginning work.

DEQ said it issued the penalty because state law requires persons performing asbestos abatement to be licensed by the agency.

Asbestos fibers are a respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma
and asbestosis. To protect human health, DEQ requires training and licensing to those who handle asbestos-containing materials.

"If they actually had followed the regulations by doing an asbestos survey, we would have caught and they would have caught the issue," said Frank Messina of the DEQ in Bend.

Pacific Crest Construction, Inc. has appealed the penalty.

The DEQ also has issued an $8,800 penalty to Laughing Planet Café, LLC for allowing the unlicensed asbestos abatement contractor to perform asbestos-related work at the 913 NE Third Street location, where its new restaurant recently opened.

Laughing Planet Café hired Pacific Crest Construction to remove sheet flooring, wall board and taping mud from the facility.

Lab testing on each of those materials later showed they contained asbestos. That
contractor did not have an asbestos abatement license, which is required by state law.

Asbestos fibers are a respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Laughing Planet Café, LLC has appealed the penalty.

Meanwhile, in another recent local case Bend Oregon Investments LLC, which owns the Green Acres RV Park south of Redmond, has filed an appeal over their $56,285 fine.

Their main arguments are that the sewage spill at Green Acres was not continuous and that they were working on fixing it.

"We are working hard to comply with all DEQ requirements for upgrades to our wastewater treatment system," said Richard Boro from Bend Oregon Investments LLC.

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