DEQ: Asbestos found in NW Portland explosion debris

Gas explosion rocked NW 23rd and Glisan on Wednesday

Crews cleanup following a gas explosion in NW Portland, October 20, 2016. (KOIN)
Crews cleanup following a gas explosion in NW Portland, October 20, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two days after a gas explosion destroyed a building in NW Portland, asbestos was found in the roofing material of the bagel shop involved.

Because of the violent nature of the explosion and fire, the Department of Environmental Quality said the entire lot of debris must be treated as though it’s contaminated.

The asbestos detected in the DEQ’s tests could be disbursed through it all.

A gas explosion took place at NW 23rd and Glisan in Portland on Wednesday morning. October 19, 2016, (KOIN)
A gas explosion took place at NW 23rd and Glisan in Portland on Wednesday morning. October 19, 2016, (KOIN)

For now, the DEQ has requested a work stoppage until an asbestos abatement contractor can be hired to do the rest of the cleanup work.

Records show abatement was done on the building in the 1990s, but that was just 700 feet of material, and officials don’t know what specifically that was.

The blast zone is still closed while crews sift through the debris.

“DEQ regulates asbestos and if it is found above 1% it’s a regulated material,” Killian Condon with the DEQ said. “The sampling indicated that asbestos was found at 35% in the roofing material, [which is] high enough for us to warrant further investigation and also to require the work to be done by an abatement contractor.”

The work will have to be done under an approved plan by the DEQ, Condon said.

“Asbestos fibers can’t be seen by the naked eye, so while we might see roofing over here, the fibers might be over here,” Condon told KOIN 6 News.

“We have a work plan ready that we feel is protective of the public’s health and we’re ready to work with that contractor to make sure that’s the method they use to complete this work,” Condon said, adding there is no timeline for completion yet.

Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman said firefighters called to check out the gas leak before the explosion were wearing the proper protective facial masks.

“They had some breathing protection on their face and that’s just for that type of risk or concern,” he said. “They never know for sure that they’re dealing with asbestos.”