In an ongoing effort to clean up the remaining properties identified within the Libby Superfund site, home of the former W.R. Grace vermiculite mine that was found to have an asbestos deposit in the mine, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded another $1.6 million to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
The W.R. Grace vermiculite mine and mill closed in 1990 and is the site of significant asbestos exposure. According to reports, nearly 3,000 residents and former miners have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, and over 400 have died from mesothelioma.
According to an Aug. 2 press release from Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-MT), the money that was allocated brings the total amount of grants awarded to the state to nearly $10 million. Gianforte said the grant promotes cooperation between EPA and the state in the cleanup efforts.
“The work continues to provide the people of Libby with a clean, healthy place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Gianforte.“This grant from the EPA will help the community in this ongoing effort.”
The April 2010 President’s Cancer Report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now”, cites the fact that asbestos exposure can occur from other substances that are contaminated with asbestos fibers. Specifically, the authors note that in the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine and mill, the source of more than 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990, there was also an asbestos deposit at the mine. The mine was found to have an amphibole asbestos deposit that left the vermiculite contaminated with asbestos fibers.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is proven to cause mesothelioma, a serious cancer caused by breathing in the asbestos fibers that then become lodged in the thin membrane that lines and encases the lungs. Often called “asbestos cancer,” mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to many standard cancer treatments. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
In January, the EPA announced that it was coming to the end of its cleanup efforts and called on residents to sign access agreements by March 31. This gave owners of residential and commercial property in Libby and Troy, Montana a final opportunity to participate in the investigation and cleanup of the Libby Amphibole asbestos.
“The community of Libby deserves a clean environment and this grant will help achieve that,” said U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). “I applaud EPA for prioritizing the health of the people of Libby.”
To find out more about the Libby cleanup efforts visit the EPA’s Superfund site.