Contractor fined $74K over asbestos-tainted debris

MEDFORD — A Florida-based company has been fined over $74,000 for improperly sending asbestos-tainted debris to a landfill in Southern Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality described the violations as “major magnitude violations,” but said the problems have since been “properly abated and removed,” The Mail Tribune reported.

The state fined BACH Land Development for improperly clearing a dozen manufactured home sites containing asbestos after last year’s fires between late November and early December and “conducting an unlicensed asbestos abatement project” at Medford Estates.

The company has until April 4 to contest the fine.

BACH Land Development “is not, and has never been licensed by DEQ as an asbestos abatement contractor,” according to findings of fact surrounding the improper cleanups before staff at the Dry Creek Landfill refused the company’s loads Dec. 7 because of improper documentation that failed to state whether it contained asbestos.

The refusal by the landfill prompted DEQ inspections in December at Medford Estates.

By Dec. 17, the contractor had properly sealed all involved piles of debris containing asbestos, and by late January had hired DEQ licensed subcontractor Asbestos Control Group to mark and properly dispose of all involved debris, according to DEQ.

BACH Land Development has had no prior violations, according to DEQ.

Facebook presence grows in Oregon

SALEM — Facebook is growing its footprint in Oregon, announcing Thursday, March 18, that it will expand its data center in Prineville — already the social media giant’s largest in the United States.

The move coincides with the company nearing completion of bringing a fiber-optic cable ashore in Tierra del Mar, Oregon. Crossing the Pacific Ocean, it will link multiple U.S. locations, including Facebook’s huge data center in Prineville, with Japan and the Philippines.

“Facebook has the need to expand its global infrastructure because of the growth in use of its apps and services,” Amy Hunter, a spokesperson for the company, said in an email March 18..

The company said it will be expanding its site in the central Oregon town of Prineville by 900,000 square feet by adding two new buildings.

“Once completed, this 11-building campus — which, at nearly 4.6 million square feet, is Facebook’s largest data center in the U.S. — will represent an investment of more than $2 billion,” the company statement said.

The California-based company first completed a 300,000-square-foot data center in Prineville 2011, attracted by the high desert’s cool nights that keep servers cool, and by a 15-year abatement on property taxes.

Within months, it began building a second. More followed, all on a bluff above Prineville, a town of about 10,000.

Facebook’s statement quoted Oregon Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, a Republican whose district includes Prineville.

“They have shown what a partnership between a small community and large corporation can be in rural Oregon,” Breese-Iverson said.

Rick Steber, a Prineville businessman, was less enthusiastic.

“I do realize there is a need for the services provided by Facebook and Apple centers, but it’s that old adage, ‘not in my backyard,” Steber told the Bulletin, a newspaper in nearby Bend. “They are an eyesore when viewed from anywhere on the north side of Prineville.

— Associated Press

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