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EPA provides additional funding for Libby cleanup

Release Date: 6/9/2004
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      Helena, MT B U.S. EPA announced today in Libby that an additional $4 million will be committed to the Libby Asbestos Superfund cleanup for 2004. The Agency will make this funding immediately available to supplement a new multi-year, site-specific cleanup contract. The additional funding will go directly into cleanup of more homes in 2004. The Central Maintenance Building at the former Stimson Mill will also be cleaned up, making it available for reuse.
Robbie Roberts, EPA Regional Administrator for Region 8, emphasized, ALibby is one of EPA=s top priorities for cleanup nationally. EPA will push to accomplish the Libby investigation and cleanup as quickly as possible and facilitate economic redevelopment of south Lincoln County.@

EPA has been at work in Libby since November 1999. In addition to investigative and risk assessment work, EPA has completed extensive cleanups at numerous sites in and around Libby. Initial cleanups were conducted at large sites with the potential to cause high exposures to many people, such as the former W.R.Grace processing facilities, several Libby schools, and a few residences.

Upon completion of these cleanups, EPA began cleaning up individual homes and businesses in 2002. The Agency plans to clean up vermiculite attic insulation and contaminated outdoor areas at approximately 1500 such properties in the Libby area. More than 220 cleanups have been completed. Investigations and cleanup at the mine site will remain secondary to EPA=s highest priority- minimizing risk in the populated areas of Libby. The mine and its access road is closed to the public.
Hundreds of people in Libby, including former mine workers, their families, and other residents, have exhibited signs and symptoms of asbestos-related disease. The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry conducted medical testing for Libby residents in the summer of 2000, and observed pleural abnormalities in 18% of the people who participated. ATSDR also found that mortality in Libby from asbestosis was 40 to 80 times higher than expected, and mortality from lung cancer was 20% to 30% higher than expected.

Montana Governor Judy Martz= letter, citing the asbestos contamination and consequent health problems, caused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to propose adding Libby to the National Priorities List (NPL). The site was formally designated in October, 2002.