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Good News from Soil Sampling Results at Hamilton’s Former Vermiculite Plant

Release Date: 06/16/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Thomi, 212-637-6669 or

(New York, NY) The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found no asbestos above the level that sophisticated lab instruments can reliably measure in recently analyzed soil samples taken from residential and recreational properties surrounding the former W.R. Grace vermiculite processing facility in Hamilton. EPA conducted the sampling to determine whether asbestos had migrated in the air to surrounding areas during more than 40 years of processing vermiculite at the facility. The vermiculite came from a source known to be contaminated with asbestos.

“We are pleased and relieved to receive the good news that asbestos was not found in areas where people live and recreate,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “EPA will continue to ensure that the ongoing work at the site does not impact the surrounding area.”

From April 3 to April 14, 2006, EPA, in coordination with state and local government officials, sampled 22 public recreation areas and 22 residential properties in Hamilton, Lawrence and Ewing Townships as well as the City of Trenton within a two-mile radius of the site to assess the asbestos content in soil. EPA is investigating the former W.R. Grace/Zonolite facility in Hamilton and adjacent areas as part of a larger, nation-wide investigation addressing potential asbestos contamination at vermiculite processing and handling facilities that received vermiculite ore from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana.

EPA completed the first phase of cleanup at the former W.R. Grace plant in April 2004. Approximately 9,200 tons of soil contaminated with asbestos were removed and shipped to a secure landfill in Pennsylvania. Additional removal of contaminated soil from a wetland area adjacent to the plant site is planned for 2006.

For more than 40 years, W.R. Grace processed vermiculite ore from Montana at the Hamilton plant site. Ores from that mine contained varying amounts of asbestos. It was then sold commercially for fireproofing, insulation and garden products. Vermiculite from the Libby mine was contaminated with naturally occurring amphibole asbestos including tremolite, a potent spear-like form of asbestos. Asbestos, if inhaled, can cause lung disease, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer associated with asbestos.

For more information about the W.R. Grace / Zonolite site: