Albany, OR—Owners of a commercial property in Albany have been fined for asbestos violations, according to a recent press release from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Timothy John Fitzpatrick and Kelli Ellena Fitzpatrick have been issued a penalty in the amount of $1000. The fine stems from their violation of asbestos-abatement regulations.
The Fitzpatricks allowed unlicensed workers to perform asbestos abatement—which is the removal of potentially hazardous asbestos-containing material—at a commercial building they own in Albany. The workers were removing sheet vinyl, which contained friable asbestos.
“Friable” is a term which describes asbestos-containing materials that have been disturbed in some way, either through mining, construction, installation, renovation, or demolition. When asbestos becomes friable, its microscopic fibers are released into the air. From there, they can be easily inhaled by workers on the project, or even by innocent bystanders.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they lodge themselves in various bodily organs, most notably the mesothelium, a tissue which surrounds the heart, stomach and lungs. The asbestos fibers cannot be removed from the body, and are closely linked to the development of several deadly diseases, including lung cancer, pleural disease, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is one of the rarest, but also one of the most aggressive and deadly, cancers.
One of the greatest dangers of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases is that they are often not diagnosed until years, or even decades, after the initial exposure to asbestos. This makes them difficult to diagnose and treat. Mesothelioma is generally considered to be incurable, and patients diagnosed with it have a very short life expectancy.
Workers employed by the Fitzpatricks failed to properly package and label the asbestos-containing waste material after it was removed from the building. The Fitzpatricks themselves knowingly allowed the workers to throw some of the waste into an open dumpster. This resulted in an additional violation of Oregon environmental laws.
Specially trained and licensed asbestos abatement contractors are required to be employed in abatement jobs.
The Fitzpatricks have been fined $1000. They have 20 days to either appeal the decision, or pay the fine.