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Tigard asbestos company appeals DEQ fine

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined a Tigard asbestos removal company almost $20,000 after it failed to safely remove asbestos from a Hillsboro apartment building.

AAM Inc., on Southwest Greenburg Road, was fined $19,200 in January after it allegedly failed to follow proper safety procedures when it removed asbestos from an apartment last October, DEQ announced in a statement on Tuesday.

AAM Inc. sent a crew to the apartment, located at 262 N.E. 18th Ave., on Oct. 22, 2014, DEQ said. Crews were scheduled to remove 320 square feet of asbestos from the apartment.

Asbestos was once commonly found in insulation, but has since been found to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

According to two inspectors from DEQ who visited the site, workers left an access flap to the asbestos containment area open, and a pipe into the containment area was not sealed, potentially allowing the harmful fibers to be blown out.

“Work done at the residence could have released asbestos fibers into the air and exposed workers, the public and residents of the home to asbestos,” DEQ said in a statement.

On Monday, Jan. 12, DEQ fined AAM Inc. $19,200 — $9,600 for not sealing the containment area, and another $9,600 for failing to wet asbestos materials after it was removed from the apartment.

Scott Zwingli, president at AAM Inc., appealed the penalty on Jan. 28, saying that the DEQ inspectors conducted the inspection before work began.

“We hadn’t started yet,” Zwingli said. “We were still setting up the containment.”

This is not the first time that AAM Inc. has faced fines from DEQ.

In August of 2014, the company was fined $1,800 after it failed to provide DEQ with a report that the air was free of asbestos after completing a project in Newberg.

“If we’re guilty, that’s fine,” Zwingli said. “But if we’re not, then you can’t fine us for that.”

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