Multnomah County

OSHA emails confirm asbestos in SW Portland apt complex

Asbestos was found in a complex run by Tandem Property Management

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Emails from a senior officer at Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration seem to confirm allegations that asbestos was found in a Southwest Portland apartment complex run by Tandem Property Management. 

Those emails, forwarded to KOIN 6 News, were sent in late July to a former employee of Tandem Property Management who had found and reported asbestos discovered during renovations at the Commons at Sylvan Highlands complex. 

In the emails, senior health compliance officer Chris Zimmer said that he was waiting on paperwork from Tandem Property Management. 

Regarding the inspection, he wrote, “They are aware that we found a positive result for asbestos. They are aware that there will be violations.” 

OSHA spokesperson Aaron Corvin would not discuss the emails with KOIN 6, saying that the investigation into Commons at Sylvan Highlands was still ongoing. A second email from Zimmer, also from late July, indicates that Zimmer was wrapping up his part of the investigation within 2 weeks – though it was dependent on receipt of records from Tandem.  

After that, he wrote, a citation would be issued. It is unclear whether that citation has been issued, or why OSHA’s investigation remains open.  

Laura Gleim, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, told KOIN 6 this week that Tandem Property Management had not yet produced proof of a mandatory asbestos survey that should have been conducted before renovations were begun. 

At least two lawsuits have been filed against the property management company regarding its handling of asbestos. 

Jason Eaton, a former maintenance manager, plans to add his name to one of the lawsuits filed by former employees. He says he was fired Wednesday as retaliation for discovering and reporting the asbestos. 

“They're always talking about doing the right thing and having integrity,” he said. “That is what I've done since day 1 about this. and I suffered because I have integrity.” 

Residents of Commons at Sylvan Highlands told KOIN 6 in late September that they had not heard anything from Tandem Property Management about possible exposure to asbestos.  

“I think there should be some kind of public statement, if not to everyone in the world, at least sent to us living here,” Brandon Vander Hey said. “We're all left running around in the dark, not sure what to do.” 
 


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