Posts Tagged ‘Montana’

EPA remediation deadline passes for Libby residents

4 Apr 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

Libby Montana Eagles 1 100x100 EPA remediation deadline passes for Libby residentsThe deadline for Libby, Montana, residents to request 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’ remediation on the EPA’s tab, according to the Flathead Beacon.

Libby was home to an -contaminated vermiculite mine from 1963 to 1990, and the EPA has been conducting 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. (more…)


ADAO annual conference set for April 2017

27 Jan 2017 by Sarah Mahan under Events

640px Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel 100x100 ADAO annual conference set for April 2017Since 2005, the Disease Awareness Organization’s (ADAO) annual International Awareness and Prevention Conference has brought together more than 300 speakers from 14 different countries to speak about joint efforts in education, advocacy and awareness.

This year’s event, to be held April 7-9, 2107, at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, is set to add to those numbers with doctors, scientists, experts, advocates and victims gathering to help prevent and eliminate -causing diseases. (more…)


$25 million settlement over asbestos exposure reached against state of Montanta

24 Jan 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

640px Vermiculite1 100x100 $25 million settlement over asbestos exposure reached against state of Montanta Last week more than 1,000 workers, family members and community members sickened by a vermiculite mine near Libby, Montana, settled with the state of Montana for a total of $25 million.

The Flathead Beacon reports the settlements stem from nearly 100 lawsuits, each involving multiple claimants, brought against the state for failing to warn citizens of the hazards of the -contaminated W.R. Grace and Co. mine, which operated for decades outside of the town. The recent settlements follow another in 2011 for $43 million. The recent plaintiffs had not been diagnosed when the 2011 settlement with the state was reached. (more…)


Libby, Montana asbestos case to be reviewed by Workman’s Compensation Court

28 Jan 2015 by Wesley Smithart under Legal, News

forest libby 100x100 Libby, Montana asbestos case to be reviewed by Workman’s Compensation CourtIn 2009, Edwin Moreau died of -related lung cancer after working at W.R. Grace Mine in Libby, Mont., for almost 30 years. Since he became ill, his wife, Cristita Moreau, has been battling to secure her husband’s benefits to cover his medical expenses. Initially, her claim for occupational disease benefits was refused by Transportation Insurance, W.R. Grace’s company covering claims from sick workers. In 2010, Moreau filed a petition with the Workman’s Compensation Court, which resulted in a settlement in 2013. (more…)


Naturally occurring asbestos fibers discovered in rocks and dust in Nevada

8 Jan 2014 by Wendi Lewis under News, Research/Treatment

actinolite asbestos 100x100 Naturally occurring asbestos fibers discovered in rocks and dust in NevadaA team of geologists from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) are examining an area in Southern Nevada where naturally occurring 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…)


Libby, Montana, still waiting on EPA risk assessment of asbestos Superfund site

19 Aug 2013 by Wendi Lewis under Events, News, Organizations

asbestos warning 100x100 Libby, Montana, still waiting on EPA risk assessment of asbestos Superfund siteDespite initial promises to deliver its Human Health Risk Assessment of the Libby, Mont., 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 contamination that likely caused the deaths and serious illnesses of hundreds of residents. (more…)


Logging Libby: can asbestos-contaminated trees be harvested safely?

19 Nov 2012 by Wendi Lewis under News, Research/Treatment

forest libby 100x100 Logging Libby: can asbestos contaminated trees be harvested safely?A new feasibility study examines the possibility of logging some 35,000 acres of timber surrounding the town of Libby, Montana. Libby is the site of the former W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine, and now the largest and most deadly Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund cleanup site in the United States. (more…)


Baucus inserts coverage in health care bill for those affected by Libby asbestos

13 Jan 2010 by Wendi Lewis under Events, News, People

A December report by the New York Times revealed that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) has inserted language into the government’s proposed health care legislation that would provide coverage specifically for people exposed to in Libby, Montana. According to the report, language in the bill would expand Medicare coverage to vicitims of “environmental health hazards.”

According to the Times, the language is even more precise, calling for coverage for “individuals exposed to environmental health hazards recognized as a public health emergency in a declaration issued by the fedearl government on June 17.” This declaration and date, of course, coincides with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s designation of Libby as a Public Health Emergency area.

The Times quotes Baucus as saying the language is not only intended for the people of Libby, but for anyone in the future whose town is affected by a similar tragedy that affects the health and well-being of its people. He said the legislation would provide a safety net to “help people when they need it most.”

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed their versions of the health care reform bill last year. It is now up to the 111th Congress as a whole to reconcile the two bills so that they may be presented to President Obama for his signature.

Congressional leaders say they hope to accomplish this by the end of January.


Future tied up in past as asbestos deaths continue in Libby

30 Dec 2009 by Wendi Lewis under News

As part of its look back at the year 2009, the Missioulian newspaper spoke with residents of Libby, Montana, the “poster child” for mesothelioma and other related diseases. Libby and its people have been decimated by asbestos exposure from the vermiculite mine that for generations operated in the town. Even those who did not work in the mine were affected, as dust blanketed the town, spilled from trucks and railway cars, and particles were used as landfill throughout the town.

W.R. Grace & Company operated the mine. In 2009, the company and several of its officers were brought up on criminal charges, but a jury returned a verdict of “not guilty.” Many following the trial closely said the government botched its case against the company, and others argued Grace’s deep pockets simply outpaced the efforts of a handful of government lawyers.

The aquittal was another in a long line of emotional blows for Libby residents, who hoped to see W.R. Grace finally brought to justice for the devastation of their hometown, their families and loved ones. Generations of Libby residents have already died of mesothelioma, and many more are currently suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and a host of other ailments caused by longterm exposure to .

On June 17, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally declared a public health emergency in Libby. This designation – the first of its kind in American history – will allow the government to increase funds to provide for medical treatment for Libby residents, and for research into disease. According to the Missoulian, Libby has already received $6 million, which is designated for patient screening and care, and the town is set to receive an additional $2 million for health care and home care assistance. The paper reports the health care clinic – the Center for Related Diseases (CARD) – and the local hospital are planning expansions.

At the beginning of December, a series of town hall meetings were held, hoping to address important questions about safety and health, including whether or not the government’s clean-up efforts are truly making any difference.

For residents who already have seen husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives die terrible deaths from disease, it is too little too late. They try to remain strong, but they are angry, and sad, and it’s hard to hold onto hope.

Read the full article by Missoulian reporter Micheal Jamison.


Montana newspaper series takes a look at Libby today

9 Dec 2009 by Wendi Lewis under News

A series of stories in the Daily Inter Lake, which serves Northwest Montana and which initially broke the story about widespread 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 mine, which was operated for years by W.R. Grace & Company. Even those who didn’t work in the mine were exposed to , as dust from the mine covered the surrounding area, railroad tracks and roads used to transport the materials. 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 disease affecting Libby area residents is currently treating about 2,800 patients with varying levels of disease.

Dr. Brad Black, who oversees patient care at the clinic, called the Center for Related Disease (CARD), says it’s impossible to really determine how many people have been affected by 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 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 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 affecting Libby – amphibole – is much more toxic than chrysotile , and that cleanup efforts are being conducted using old research on the wrong type of .

The Daily Inter Lake reports that EPA officials have admitted they are using toxicology assessments from 1985 data on less toxic , not Libby . This is despite a more recent study completed in 2003, which “established exposure benchmarks for mesothelioma and lung cancer based on 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 -related diseases.

The 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 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.

Testimony resulting from the bankruptcy trial in October revealed that there is a 59 percent probability of death for Libby residents exposed to dust.

“No other place on the planet has that,” the Daily Inter Lake quotes attorney John Heberling, who is representing 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:

What is a safe dose for Libby?
What’s next for Libby?
Asbestos victims try to stay upbeat
Advocate’s work for asbestos victims spans 35 years
Grace lawsuit claimants still in limbo