The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second season of cleanup at the North Ridge Estates Superfund Site in Klamath Falls, Oregon, began Monday. The site is a residential subdivision that contains asbestos as a result of the improper demolition of 82 asbestos-containing military barracks that were once used to treat World War II Marines suffering from tropical diseases. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Protection Agency’
In June 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act into law as an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S.’s primary chemical management law. It marked the first time American chemical regulatory law had been updated in nearly 40 years.
As part of the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated under the reform act, asbestos, known to cause mesothelioma, a rare, fatal cancer that normally affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen, is set to finally be evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine its risk to humans and potentially be further regulated or banned. Despite well studied health risks, the use of the carcinogenic group of minerals has continued due to legal red tape, MyMeso previously reported.
While the change of presidential administrations and political parties caused — and perhaps continues to cause — some to question the Act’s future, the EPA seems to be moving forward with its initial plan. Last week the agency held a public meeting on use information for the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated under the Act — a step toward the creation of scoping documents for each of the chemicals. (more…)
An asbestos disposal site for nearly a century, BoRit Asbestos Site in Ambler, Pennsylvania, now has a long-term remediation plan through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 38-acre BoRit site was included as part of the EPA’s Superfund Program, which provides federal funding for remediation, eight years ago, and last month the agency released its proposed long-term remedy for the site—open to public comment through March 3. (more…)
Autauga County, Ala., officials have confirmed that asbestos floor tiles were found during the renovation of the Autauga County Courthouse.
“We didn’t know the tiles were there,” said Steve Golsan, the county administrator. “Our contractor informed us, and another contractor who is licensed and specializes in asbestos removal was called in to properly remove and dispose of the tiles. All precautions are being taken to contain the asbestos.” (more…)
Town leaders in Plattsmouth, Neb., voted last week to allow the demolition and removal of a building under the watch of the Historic Preservation Board. The century-old Waterman building, which was located in downtown Plattsmouth, was destroyed by fire in January. The structure has been in limbo ever since, as the Preservation Board tried to decide if it could be saved and restored. (more…)
A team of geologists from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) are examining an area in Southern Nevada where naturally occurring asbestos fibers have been discovered in rocks and dust. The area under investigation stretches from Boulder City to the southeastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley, which encompasses about 1,200 square miles. (more…)
It is estimated that more than 200 people were exposed to asbestos at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School in Binghamton, N.Y., this summer. Students and administrators were in the building regularly for summer school programs until the presence of asbestos was confirmed Aug. 7. Tests revealed unsafe levels of asbestos in the air. (more…)
Despite initial promises to deliver its Human Health Risk Assessment of the Libby, Mont., asbestos Superfund cleanup site in 2005, last week representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the final report would not be ready until late 2014. Residents of Libby have been struggling for more than a decade to recover from massive amphibole asbestos contamination that likely caused the deaths and serious illnesses of hundreds of residents. (more…)
In the wake of this week’s devastating mile-wide tornado that leveled a wide swath of Moore, Okla., folks are mourning the loss of loved ones, the loss of their homes and in some cases their livelihoods. Survivors are pulling each other close and counting their blessings. People are taking a deep breath and surveying the damage, but thankful the danger has passed. However, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies urge caution as residents and volunteers descend on the town to begin the arduous task of cleanup. The rubble holds danger of its own, from toxins including asbestos and lead. (more…)
A series of stories in the Daily Inter Lake, which serves Northwest Montana and which initially broke the story about widespread asbestos contamination of the town of Libby, Mont., in 1999, is featuring a series of stories about the town. The feature is related to a recent town hall style meeting organized by the University of Montana, which is seeking to get clarification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about just how much toxicity remains in the town.
The town hall meeting, which was held Dec. 6, featured a panel discussion about the deadly fallout from town’s vermiculite asbestos mine, which was operated for years by W.R. Grace & Company. Even those who didn’t work in the mine were exposed to asbestos, as dust from the mine covered the surrounding area, railroad tracks and roads used to transport the materials. Asbestos was even used as filler for gardens and ballparks.
According to the Daily Inter Lake report, more than 300 deaths have been linked to asbestos exposure from the vermiculite mine. A special health clinic established by the EPA after the story broke about the widespread asbestos disease affecting Libby area residents is currently treating about 2,800 patients with varying levels of asbestos disease.
Dr. Brad Black, who oversees patient care at the clinic, called the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD), says it’s impossible to really determine how many people have been affected by asbestos in Libby, because around 80,000 people “came and went in Libby while the mine was operating,” the paper reports.
Because of the long latency period of asbestos disease – which includes conditions such as asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs that impedes lung function and limits breathing, and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or, more rarely, the abdomen or heart – which is sometimes as long as 30 or 40 years, Black estimates cases will continue to emerge well into the future, through the year 2030.
Since the asbestos contamination of Libby was brought to light, it has been a roller-coaster ride for area residents. The EPA has spent more than $206 million to date to clean up residential and commercial properties. In June, Libby was declared a public health emergency, which is the first time the agency has made such a determination under the 1980 Superfund law. This will allow more money to be put into the town’s cleanup efforts.
However, there are still lingering questions about just how effective these cleanup efforts really are. The EPA has divided the Libby Superfund site into eight geographical units, and has so far only completed cleanup on two of those units. However, some scientists argue that the type of asbestos affecting Libby – amphibole – is much more toxic than chrysotile asbestos, and that cleanup efforts are being conducted using old research on the wrong type of asbestos.
The Daily Inter Lake reports that EPA officials have admitted they are using toxicology assessments from 1985 data on less toxic asbestos, not Libby asbestos. This is despite a more recent study completed in 2003, which “established exposure benchmarks for mesothelioma and lung cancer based on asbestos epidemiologic studies,” the news agency reports.
According to the paper, federal government risk assessment standards say cleanup efforts are necessary when there is evidence of one death per 10,000 people. In Libby, where the population is around 10,000 people, there have already been 31 deaths just from mesothelioma. This doesn’t even take into account the suffering and death from other asbestos-related diseases.
The asbestos contamination also has been a see-saw on the legal front. In May, W.R. Grace & Co. and several of its top leaders were acquitted of criminal charges related to the widespread asbestos disease affecting its residents. Nearly 800 people still have pending civil suits against the company, which have been delayed by bankrupcy claims on the part of Grace. The company is expected to emerge from bankruptcy in January.
“No other place on the planet has that,” the Daily Inter Lake quotes attorney John Heberling, who is representing asbestos clients.
This is a fascinating and tragic series of stories, and I encourage you to visit the Daily Inter Lake online to read the full series. It includes a feature on Gayla Benefield, who, along with compatriot Les Skramstad, began the campaign to expose the Libby contamination and lobby for justice for the town. Here are just a few of the links: