The deadline for Libby, Montana, residents to request asbestos cleanup on their properties has come and gone. March 31 was the end of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “last call” for residents in Libby and surrounding Lincoln County to put their properties’ asbestos remediation on the EPA’s tab, according to the Flathead Beacon.
Libby was home to an asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine from 1963 to 1990, and the EPA has been conducting asbestos cleanup in the surrounding area since it was declared a Superfund site in the early 2000s. The EPA has been wrapping up its final push to get residents to sign access agreements so the agency can investigate and/or remediate remaining properties.
The news source reports since remediation efforts began, 7,500 properties have been inspected, and more than 2,440 have required clean up. Since January, 120 property owners have granted the EPA access to their home or land for inspection and 115 of the those will require cleanup. However, 330 property owners have told the EPA they do not want an inspection, meaning any cleaning or inspection costs in the future would fall on the property owners. The EPA will file a notice of environmental condition with county officials so future inhabitants of uninspected properties will be aware of the potential health risks.
The asbestos-contaminated mine has caused hundreds of sicknesses and deaths in Lincoln County, which led the EPA to declare it a Superfund site. Asbestos, once used in a variety of construction and manufacturing processes and products, is now a known human carcinogen.