Portofino at Large Condominium Association, along with its parent company, Waterstone Capital Portofino at Large, LLC are both being fined for improperly removing asbestos and they are receiving almost $43,000 in county fines.
The Criminal Investigation Division of the EPA reached out to Pinellas’ Air Quality Division back in June of 2014 and there was a complaint about a few renovations that were being done at Portofino at Largo, which is also called Portofino at Indian Rocks Beach. The county’s Air Quality Division issued a series of inspections throughout the summer (two in June, three in July and one in August of 2014).
The investigations found that during the renovations of eight different condo units, Portofino was found to have “disturbed” asbestos improperly in 25,984 square feet of textured ceiling materials, 3,312 square feet of vinyl floor sheeting, 6,800 square feet of roof shingles, 2,250 square feet of drywall systems 460 square feet of exterior stucco, and in over 160 square feet of exterior paint. The Air Quality Division inspections also found that asbestos was in shelving, coating walls and floors. The hazardous material was seen scattered as debris on stairwells, landings, landscaped areas and parking lots.
Another finding was that friable asbestos had been stripped from the referenced facility without first being appropriately wetted, which is a county code regulation. While the 25,984 square feet of asbestos containing ceiling materials was being removed, there was not a trained on-site representative on location, according to the inspection reports. From this particular removal of asbestos, asbestos was found on the inside of condominium units, stairwells, landings, open back porches, parking lots and landscaped grassy areas.
Although there were numerous violations, it seems that the most hazardous violation was that asbestos was deposited into open-top-roll-off dumpster containers after it was first confined into bags that were not sealed all the way, as per the county regulation. After picking up the hazardous material, the dumpster containers were then transported to Angelo’s Recycled Materials and Pinellas County Solid Waste Disposal facilities. Because this shipment was never identified as having asbestos containing waste in it, it was put into the county incinerator, instead of being buried in the appropriate way.
It also appears that waste shipment records were never created, or at least they have not been located. This month, Pinellas County Commission approved a consent order, which both the Air Quality Division and the two respondents (Richard Waserstein of Waterstone Capital Portofino at Largo and Eli Dadon of Portofino at Largo Condo Association), have agreed to. The consent order says that $42,945 worth of fines need to be paid by the respondents to the Pinellas County Air Pollution Recovery Fund and will be paid in quarterly installments of $10,736, with the last payment being for one more dollar. These payments will start August 1, 2015.
The Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology have stated that prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to a serious and often fatal illness, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.