LA GRANDE — The demolition of a building in May 2019 at the La Grande/Union County Airport resulted in three fines in December 2020 for mishandling asbestos removal, including one penalty against Union County.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued penalties of $7,200 each against Union County and Wellens General Contractors Inc. of Enterprise and a penalty of $11,200 against Dustin Mulrony of Ontario.

According to the DEQ’s notices of the civil penalties, Union County hired Wellens to demolish a building at the site, 60131 Pierce Road, La Grande. Wellens in turn brought on Mulrony, an unlicensed contractor, to demolish the interior of the building.

Mulrony created a debris pile approximately 50 feet by 20 feet by 15 feet tall, according to DEQ documents, and an inspection in June 2019 revealed the materials in the pile contained asbestos. The DEQ also reported a licensed asbestos abatement contractor in July 2019 completed the abatement of the pile.

The fines are for the open accumulation of asbestos-containing material, according to the notices. The DEQ also noted the county, Wellens and Mulrony failed to have an accredited inspector survey the building for asbestos prior to demolition, but the state environmental regulator did not issue fines for that violation.

The trio of fines was among 11 the DEQ issued in December, which included a $1,600 penalty against Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton for air pollution.

The largest penalties were against Columbia 410 LLC in Molalla and its parent company, CHTC Inc, and CEO, Jacob Crabtree, for ongoing air pollution. The DEQ issued a penalty of $198,786 against CHTC Inc., $196,288 against Columbia 410 LLC and $196,288 against Crabtree.

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