Crews cleaning up after natural gas explosion taking extra preca - KPTV - FOX 12

Crews cleaning up after natural gas explosion taking extra precaution due to asbestos

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Image from Air 12 over the scene of a natural gas explosion in northwest Portland. (KPTV) Image from Air 12 over the scene of a natural gas explosion in northwest Portland. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

It has been three months since a natural gas explosion rocked Northwest Portland, leveling an entire building, and the cleanup is only getting started, due to concerns about asbestos.

Matthew Van Sickle, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality, said the building's roof was 35 percent asbestos, and the explosion caused the entire site to be contaminated.

Contractors licensed to handle asbestos will keep the rubble wet while they work, to prevent the toxic materials from becoming airborne.

All the materials will be wrapped in tarps and taken to a landfill in Wasco County that handles hazardous waste.

"While the cleanup is going on, there's going to be ambient air monitoring that's going to happen at the site to make sure the public is kept safe, the environment is kept safe, and all the workers are going to be certified by the state in handling of asbestos waste," said Van Sickle.

Businesses formerly housed in the building, meanwhile, remain displaced.

Jason Kundell, who owns Art Work Rebels Tattoo, worked out of the building for twenty years.

"It's hard to imagine it just all being gone. But it's all gone," said Kundell.

Kundell said he is in the process of rebuilding his studio at a new location in downtown Portland, but is still waiting on his insurance claim to be settled, and struggling to scrape together money to get his business back off the ground.

"I know it was an accident. I know no one purposefully tried to sabotage our building, but it really messed up a lot of people," said Kundell. "There was a lot of people in that building who depended on going to work every day."

The building, at the corner of Northwest 23rd and Glisan, exploded in mid-October, shortly after a construction crew ruptured a gas line.

Two Portland firefighters working to evacuate the building were injured in the blast.

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