2013 Investors LLC and two individuals recently pled guilty in Spokane County Superior Court to multiple violations of the Washington Clean Air Act. Another employee pled guilty in August and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

The charges relate to renovations at the former 89-room Spokane House Hotel. Despite the presence of asbestos in the hotel, the defendants did not obtain the proper asbestos surveys or city permits to do their renovation work. Investigators became aware of the violations when one of them happened to drive by the hotel and observed the significant extent of the renovation. Investigators found piles of debris containing asbestos sitting out in the open air. Some of these debris piles were exposed to the open air for months, including during times when the area experienced high winds of over 40 miles per hour, which were capable of further spreading the asbestos fibers into the nearby community.

Not only does the enforcement action illustrate the importance of obtaining necessary state and local permits prior to renovation work involving asbestos, but also demonstrates the risk of significant project delays that can occur when contractors and sub-contractors are not adequately vetted or supervised to ensure they are complying with relevant regulations. While the customer may not be legally liable or responsible for its contractor’s violations, it may nonetheless be significantly impacted by project delays and unwanted publicity caused by its contractor’s violations.

You can read more about the case at the Washington State Office of the Attorney General website.