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Hazardous Fire in Portland Takes an Interesting Twist

On March 15, 2004 there was a major fire in Southeast Portland at the Termo Fluids facility. Thermo Fluids was a waste oil and fluids processor in a facility that was under watch for code violations by the city of Portland. Many fluids ran into adjacent Johnson Creek and killed an array of fish. Toxic fumes and burned asbestos were scattered for miles around. On the TV news the following day, hazmat suited workers were shown collecting asbestos from a local park and neighborhood. Residents were told to call the city for asbestos clean-up crews to come and remove the asbestos from their yards. The city said that they would be adding crews to help with the clean up.

And so they did. They hired Rose City Contractors to get workers out on the calls for clean up duty. My sister-in-law who lives near Thermo Fluids called for a cleanup crew. They arrived, but they were not who she expected. Three Latino men showed up in a private car with leather work gloves, plastic bags and one respirator between them. Hardly the hazmat suited figures shown on the news. The respirator was still in the box because the one man who spoke English didn't know how it worked. Asbestos collected in the bags was not sealed, but twist-tied and placed both inside the private vehicle and in its trunk.

My sister-in-law had the opportunity to speak on the phone with a representative of Rose City Contractors. The Rep said that each worker had received forty hours of training. One might ask what that training consisted of, and whether the language used was anything in addition to English.
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