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State fines Bellingham business for improper asbestos, lead handling in three buildings

Daylight Properties has been fined $185,600 for safety and health violations, the majority of which involved its handling of asbestos and lead, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries announced Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The state agency cited the Bellingham-based property management company for what it called 33 serious and six general violations for the work at three of its buildings in Chehalis.

According to L&I’s citations, the buildings are:

St. Helens Inn Apartments, also known as the St. Helens Apartments.

Brunswig Building.

Elks Building.

Daylight also owns 25 commercial and residential buildings in Bellingham and Lynden, according to its website. Most of the buildings are in downtown Bellingham, including the Herald Building and The Leopold building.

Kane Hall, CEO of Daylight Properties, said the state “inaccurately describes the working conditions” at the properties in Chehalis.

He said Daylight will appeal the citation, which the state issued on Aug. 12.

“Daylight Properties is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees and tenants and the protection of our environment,” Hall said in a statement to The Bellingham Herald.

“We have a long history of preserving and restoring buildings by following relevant local, state and federal regulations,” Hall said. “We will work with the agencies involved to assure the safety of our tenants and the community.”

The largest single fine for the Chehalis work totaled $48,000 and that was for failing to obtain a good-faith inspection before starting work to remove asbestos, according to the state agency.

“Improper and unsafe lead and asbestos removal is a serious problem in Washington,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, in a statement.

Asbestos and lead exposure can be hazardous to human health.

“This company renovates old buildings which often have asbestos and lead-containing materials. There are laws in place, and we expect them to be followed to prevent exposing workers, tenants and the general public to these hazardous materials,” Soiza added.

L&I said other violations included not having asbestos removal certification and not having an asbestos “competent person” on-site. Daylight also was cited for using workers who weren’t certified for asbestos work and failing, during removal, to sufficiently wet materials that contained asbestos.

The state said only certified contractors may remove and dispose of materials that contain lead and asbestos, which can be hazardous to human health.

As for the $48,000 fine, that was based on a $600 a day fine over an extended period, according to the agency.

“In this case, the violation with the largest dollar amount was compounded because they worked for 80 days without obtaining a good-faith inspection,” L&I spokesman Frank Ameduri said to The Bellingham Herald. “ It is a serious violation, but it was the length of time that increased it so significantly.”

The Bellingham Herald offices moved from the Herald Building in August 2019.

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Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.
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