Portland, Ore. – Able Contractors, a Washington-based asbestos abatement firm, received its second violation this year for improper reporting and removal of asbestos, which can cause the rare but severe cancer mesothelioma, from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The firm received a fine in April of this year for $17, 588; the September fine comes at a higher amount of $30,409. Concerns over asbestos, a material once popular in the construction industry, are not without cause, as mesothelioma is a devastating disease which may not manifest itself immediately, but can lie latent within the body for years or even decades.
Although based in Washington state, Able Contractors also operates in areas of Oregon. This is their third violation from the Oregon DEQ since 2001. In a news release issued by the DEQ, it is reported that the firm failed to submit completed friable asbestos abatement project notification, remove all visible asbestos-containing material before the final air clearance sampling tests, and provide the DEQ with quarterly summary reports for all asbestos abatement projects.
It was also reported that Able Contractors did not do a final air sampling when the project was finished. When asbestos fibers are left in the air, it is easily breathable by anyone who comes in contact with it. The fibers become embedded in the membrane lining called the mesothelium, which lines all of the vital organs, including the lungs and heart. These asbestos fibers can cause cells to become cancerous, leading to a deadly mesothelioma tumor.
“They had left asbestos-containing material exposed on a third-floor ceiling that was to be renovated,” said DEQ asbestos inspector Dottie Boyd. “We got involved and made sure the problem was corrected before it became a safety issue for the residents or employees.” Able Contractors has failed to pay the fine from earlier this year, and has appealed the latest fine as well.
Mesothelioma is diagnosed in nearly 3,000 patients each year, often when the disease has progressed to an almost deadly point. The latency period of mesothelioma makes it difficult to detect and diagnose, leading to a high mortality rate among those afflicted. Although progress has been made in finding better treatment and detection methods, there is still no cure for mesothelioma.