A Bellingham company working to renovate several historic properties in Chehalis has been hit with a hefty fine from the state Department of Labor & Industries for multiple safety and health violations involving asbestos and lead. 

The citations specifically refer to the St. Helens Inn, the Brunswig Building and the Chehalis Elks building. A fourth local structure owned by the company, the Elgin Arms building, was not listed in any of the citations. 

According to a news release from L&I, the company was cited for 33 “serious” and six “general” violations. The largest single fine was for $48,000 for “failure to obtain a good faith inspection before beginning asbestos removal work.” The fine is for $600 a day over an 80-day work period. 

Other violations involve not having asbestos removal certification, not having an “asbestos competent” person on site, workers not being certified to work around asbestos and not properly handling asbestos-containing materials. 

“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. “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.”

Daylight Properties CEO Kane Hall issued a statement through Dave Brumbaugh, of the Brumbaugh Co. public relations company. 

“On August 12, the Department of Labor & Industries issued a Citation and Notice of Assessment that inaccurately describes the working conditions at several properties located in Chehalis, Wash.  No properties managed by Daylight Properties in Whatcom County were issued a Citation and Notice of Assessment. Daylight Properties is appealing the Citation and Notice of Assessment and, as a result, will have no further comment,” the statement reads.

Daylight Properties is based in Bellingham but the citation only concerned the Chehalis properties. 

The citation is dated Aug. 12, 2019. The company had 15 days from the citation date to appeal. 

According to L&I documentation, the citations are for a variety of issues at the work sites. One violation, labeled a repeat violation, noted that a circular saw didn’t have a required safety hood. That citation resulted in a $9,600 fine.

A $5,600 fine accompanied another violation for removing asbestos-containing flooring and wallboard from the St. Helens Inn, flooring from the Brunswig Building and insulation in the Brunswig basement. The company was also accused of improperly removing dust and debris from the asbestos work and for not providing employees with protective clothing.

In another citation, resulting in a $1,600 fine, L&I documents state, “The employer did not perform lead exposure determinations for an employee performing abrasive removal of paint containing up to 24.4% lead at the St. Helens Inn Apartments. 

The company was also cited for employees not having respiratory equipment or protective clothing while sanding the same paint off window sills at the St. Helens building. 

The citation notes that several issues were corrected when brought to the attention of Daylight Properties.

“Daylight Properties is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees and tenants and the protection of our environment. We have a long history of preserving and restoring buildings by following relevant local, state and federal regulations. We will work with the agencies involved to assure the safety of our tenants and the community,” Hall’s statement reads.

Asbestos is hazardous and can cause fatal diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer, according to L&I. Lead exposure can also have negative health effects. L&I maintains a list of contractors qualified for asbestos abatement.

The Chehalis Fire Department’s downtown building, also a historic structure, was evacuated last year due to asbestos and the department does not plan to move back in. 

In Aug. 2018, The Chronicle reported that Daylight Properties, which at that time also had an office in Chehalis and has owned the historic St. Helens Inn in Chehalis since 2005. The company bought the Chehalis Elks building, the Elgin Arms Hotel and the Brunswig Hotel in early 2018, but did not have plans to buy more real estate in the area. 

“Chehalis has a really great historic downtown for its size,” said Robert Hall, who owns St. Helens Inn and founded Daylight Properties to The Chronicle in Aug. 2018. “What’s happened here in Bellingham, what’s happening in Olympia, is going to happen in Chehalis, too, where all the buildings will be saved and have businesses in them. The downtowns are coming back as cultural centers all around. It’s already happening.”

Previous Chronicle coverage reported the company was working on restoring the Elks building last year, and had more work planned for its other recent purchases. 

The Brunswig Hotel building, which is located at 383 N.W. Chehalis Ave., has 11 apartments in the building and four commercial spaces on the bottom floor. 

The Elgin Arms Hotel, located at 561 N.W. Rhode Island Place, was also being renovated with an eye toward residential opportunities. The structure was once a boarding house that had bedrooms for rent with shared kitchens.

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