DEQ alleges household waste containing asbestos was illegally burned during home demolition

The demolition of a house in Scappoose in 2016 led to the owner and a hired contractor being fined by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for asbestos violations.

The DEQ says Ryan James Schumann owns a property at 54031 Sam Blehm Road in Scappoose. In December 2016, he hired Robert Lee Rook, who owns Robert Rook Contractor, based in Seal Rock, to demolish the house and get rid of debris like vinyl flooring, furniture and other materials.

Investigators say much of the household debris, which contained asbestos, was burned at Schumann's request, emitting toxic fumes.

Oregon prohibits openly burning potentially toxic household items like flooring, furniture, wires and other materials.

DEQ fined Robert Rook Contractor $16,000 for "mishandling asbestos and illegally burning household material," a DEQ news release states.

Schumann was fined $23,000.

Enforcement letters sent to the contractor and Schumann from DEQ indicate the home was never surveyed for asbestos.

"Vinyl flooring in the residence contained 20 percent chrysotile asbestos," the letter states.

Robert Rook Contractor didn't have proper asbestos training or licensing, according to the state agency.

Asbestos fibers cause lung cancer and other illnesses, the DEQ notes.

"There is no known safe level of exposure. To protect public health, DEQ requires training and licensing for those who handle materials containing asbestos."

Rook's enforcement letter also indicates the Scappoose Fire District responded to reports of a fire at the home on Sam Blehm Road, where the contractor was burning materials, on three separate days in December 2016.

A licensed asbestos abatement contractor would have known how to remove the asbestos-containing materials and how to properly contain, label and dispose of the materials to prevent emissions of asbestos fibers into the air," the DEQ letter states.

Both Schumann and Rook have the option to appeal the fines, or complete a supplemental environmental project in lieu of paying fees.

Contract Publishing

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