Asbestos dumped illegally in Jefferson County

Local, state and federal agencies are trying to discover who dumped the bags and currently have no leads.

PORT TOWNSEND — The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency and other agencies are investigating one of the area’s largest illegal dumps of asbestos in a decade.

More than 100 bags of materials containing the dangerous asbestos fibers were found at two locations in Jefferson County earlier this month.

“It’s one of the larger ones in the Puget Sound Region” in the past 10 years or so, according to Pinky Feria Mingo, an air quality specialist with Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, which covers six counties including Jefferson and Clallam. She also works with Jefferson County Public Health.

Illegal to dump

“It’s illegal to dump asbestos like this. It’s required to go to a landfill, and there’s a lot of regulations on asbestos.”

Local, state and federal agencies are trying to discover who dumped the bags and currently have no leads.

“We’re looking at all our permits in the area and into other areas hoping to find a lead,” Feria Mingo said.

“If they didn’t get a permit for it, we’re not going to find it that way.”

The first 55 bags were found on a state Department of Natural Resources road in the Cape George area Sept. 14.

A resident found the bags while on a walk on the road, Feria Mingo said.

All 55 bags were double-wrapped in bags used to dispose of asbestos. They had asbestos warnings printed on them.

Those bags have been removed. DNR disposed of them Sept. 23.

Another 52 bags, also with asbestos warnings, were found at Anderson Lake on Sept. 19. Those have been taken to Fort Flagler and are still there, according to Feria Mingo.

Feria Mingo said it is very uncommon to find asbestos disposed of like this, especially in this high quantity.

“The EPA is aware of the case, but we’re not commenting further,” said Mark MacIntyre, a Seattle spokesman for the EPA.

According to the EPA, asbestos is a mineral fiber and occurs in rock and soil. It is commonly used in building projects due to its strength and heat resistance.

Exposure to asbestos fibers can increase the risk of lung cancer; mesothelioma, a cancer found in the lining of lungs, chest and heart; or asbestosis, a progressive and long-term disease affecting the lungs.

Jefferson County does not accept asbestos at this time. Instead, those checking the website at jeffersoncountysolidwaste.com are urged to call the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency at 800-422-5623 for permitting and disposal information.

Anyone with information about the dumping in East Jefferson County is urged to contact Feria Mingo at 360-338-6419.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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