Adeveloper whose plans to redevelop a sawmill in Sweet Home, Ore., has pleaded guilty to accusations that he allowed an unlicensed contractor to demolish a building, releasing asbestos near residential neighborhoods.
After the work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared it a Superfund site and spent $1.6 million cleaning up more than 4 million pounds of the cancer-causing material.
Dan Desler was sentenced in federal court to pay restitution for the cleanup. Desler was reportedly managing trustee of a trust that was given the former Willamette Industries site.
Plans to develop 400 to 600 acres with upscale housing and a complex for artists, hunters and anglers, and then for moderately priced housing never came to fruition.
In 2004, a fire believed started by a transient struck several buildings. Firefighters told state regulators of debris that appeared to contain asbestos, and Desler was told about the asbestos. He hired a licensed contractor to do cleanup, but work was not completed in any of the undamaged buildings.
Three years later, Desler hired an unlicensed contractor, who over eight months tore down, crushed and even chipped asbestos-containing materials.
The site is near a residential area and large piles of asbestos-containing materials were left uncovered.