Three companies involved in the renovation of the Otis Hotel in downtown Spokane, Washington have been hit with fines totaling $140,000 for violating health and safety rules.
The fines are the first round of financial penalties associated with the mishandling of asbestos material in the hotel.
One company, cited by the state’s Department of Labor and Industries, is owned by former mortgage broker Curtis Rystadt, who purchased the building in June 2017 for $1.4 million. The company, Hos and Boz LLC, was fined $24,500 for eight serious and three general violations of worker safety rules. The company was also hit with another $45,000 fine for 16 serious violations of rules regulating hazardous materials.
Oregon-based Santiago’s Handyman Services received the same fines as Hos and Boz, totaling $69,500. The third company, 4 Aces Restoration, was fined $200 for not informing the state that it would be handling asbestos.
The citations and fines come after an inspection in March, which found signs of improper handling and disposal of asbestos-contaminated material. Renovations at the hotel, which is 107 years old, were delayed three months after the state labor agency issued an “order of immediate restraint.” During this time, local and state inspectors investigated the removal and handling of asbestos as well as lead, which was found in the building’s paint.
Rystadt has denied any wrongdoing and claims to have documentation that proves his innocence. He says he hired 4 Aces Restoration to dispose of the asbestos material and relied on them to follow the rules.
Lisa Woordard, spokeswoman for a local air agency, said exposure is dangerous if someone “is digging through and working in the piles” of debris removed from the hotel. Ambient exposure should not jeopardize the health of people walking by, she said.
Rystadt still plans to move forward with the renovations to transform the Otis Hotel into Hotel Indigo Spokane.