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EPA: Libby cleanup to wind down
The town of Libby, Montana began mining vermiculite from mines in 1919, which was used in insulation for homes and buildings. Vermiculite from the mines has been known to be contaminated with naturally-occurring asbestos to which the workers and residents of Libby have been exposed for years. W.R. Grace & Company took over mine operations in 1963, aware of the health risks and failure to warn anyone about asbestos from those mines was the basis for much litigation against W.R. Grace concerning exposures to its products. The EPA began work in Libby starting in 2000, and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in their cleanup efforts.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced plans to finish its involvement in the cleanup operations in Libby within the next three years. Lincoln County leaders worry about the costs to the taxpayers if the state and local government agencies do not finish the cleanup correctly.
EPA officials plan to have a risk assessment by this winter following the finalization of toxicity values in October. Risk assessments are normally done prior to cleanup to see if they are necessary, but this assessment is being done to determine if the cleanup can be considered finished.
Source: The Western News