By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality leveled fines against three companies for separate violations allegedly committed in Bend, the department announced Thursday.

DEQ fined Pacific Crest Construction Inc., of Troutdale, $13,416 for handling material containing asbestos without a license while renovating the former Taylor’s Sausage building, now the Laughing Planet Cafe, on NE Third Street in April. DEQ also fined Laughing Plant $8,800 for allowing Pacific Crest to perform the work, said DEQ spokesman Greg Svelund.

Laughing Planet CEO Franz Spielvogel said the Portland-based company would contest the fine.

“That fine is really between our contractor and the owner of the property,” he said. “Obviously, I hire professional contractors to do my work, so, really, there’s nothing Laughing Planet has done wrong or intentionally wrong.”

State and Deschutes County online records identify the property owner as 3rd Street Investment LLC, of Sandy.

Pacific Crest project manager Bruce MacPherson said the company also would appeal the fine.

“We were unaware there was asbestos in the building, and when we became aware of it, had it abated per DEQ requirements,” MacPherson said Thursday.

The work involved removing sheet flooring, wall board and taping mud from the building at 913 NE Third St., according to a DEQ news release.

Kirean O’Donnell, DEQ environmental law specialist in Portland, said the violation assumes Pacific Crest, an experienced firm, should have known of potential asbestos presence in the building.

Pacific Crest requested an informal hearing, at which it may convince DEQ to reduce the fine. The appeal could go to an administrative law judge if the company further pursues its appeal.

In a separate case, DEQ fined Agere Pharmaceutical Co., 62925 NE 18th St., Bend, $6,400 for alleged hazardous waste violations, according to a separate DEQ news release.

Agere Pharmaceuticals promptly corrected the issues cited in the alleged violations but has until Aug. 15 to appeal the penalty, according to DEQ.

The department alleged that on four occasions in 2012, Agere transported a total of 1,567 pounds of hazardous waste without preparing a manifest identifying the type of waste. Agere also allegedly failed to maintain records of six hazardous waste shipments the same year and failed to make arrangements with local emergency responders to familiarize them with the types of waste being handled at Agere Pharmaceuticals, according to DEQ. In March, the department alleges, the company failed to properly label containers that contained mercury.

Marshall Crew, Agere president and CEO, in a prepared statement Thursday stated the company has appealed the penalty. He stated that in 2012, Agere “inadvertently used an incorrect form for shipping used materials for disposal …”

DEQ performed an unannounced inspection this year at Agere Pharmaceuticals and found “all the proper and required material handling practices,” Crew wrote.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,