Posts Tagged ‘Superfund’

Though budget cuts loom, EPA director pledges to prioritize Superfunds

31 May 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

Environmental Protection Agency logo 100x100 Though budget cuts loom, EPA director pledges to prioritize SuperfundsThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency () has undoubtedly faced changes since President Donald Trump took office in January. The shakeup includes naming Scott Pruitt as the agency’s administrator and rolling back many regulations put in place during the Obama era.

Although Pruitt is actively reducing regulations aimed at preventing future environmental issues, he has also recently pledged to prioritize cleaning up old contamination sites, directing regional chiefs to increase efforts to remediate Superfund sites, CBS 42 reports. (more…)


Milwaukee Superfund cleanup includes asbestos remediation

9 May 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

Paducah Asbestos Removal 7450132130 100x100 Milwaukee Superfund cleanup includes asbestos remediationClean up of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s fourth Environmental Protection Agency () Superfund site in the last five years is underway.

Late last month the began a hazardous materials cleanup in the former VE Carter School of Excellence in Milwaukee after airborne asbestos was found to be so thick in some rooms “it looked like snow,” according to the . The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the project is expected to cost the up to $423, 356, and asbestos remediation is only a portion of it. Other risks in the building include “flammable and corrosive chemicals, poisons, PCBs, lead, hazardous ash and mercury from switches and thermometers,” according to the news source. (more…)


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 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 ’s tab, according to the Flathead Beacon.

Libby was home to an asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine from 1963 to 1990, and the has been conducting asbestos cleanup in the surrounding area since it was declared a Superfund site in the early 2000s. The 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…)


EPA begins second year of cleanup at Oregon superfund site

7 Mar 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

Environmental Protection Agency logo 100x100 EPA begins second year of cleanup at Oregon superfund site The Environmental Protection Agency’s () 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…)


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 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…)


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., asbestos Superfund cleanup site in 2005, last week representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency () 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…)


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 asbestos mine, and now the largest and most deadly Environmental Protection Agency () Superfund cleanup site in the United States. (more…)


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 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 () 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 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 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 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 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.

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

“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:

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