New EPA Timetable for Libby Asbestos Risk

by Sokolove Law

Three new studies to guide the federal government’s cleanup of amphibole asbestos in Libby, Montana, should be released by late 2014, according to local news site Daily Interlake.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will use results from the three studies — a toxicology assessment, risk assessment, and feasibility study — to determine exactly how much of the asbestos can be left behind when the agency wraps up its cleanup work in the area.

The town is polluted with asbestos from W.R. Grace’s former vermiculite mine, which ceased operations in 1990 for economic reasons. The vermiculite from the mine contained amphibole asbestos, a particularly toxic form of the fibrous mineral. The cleanup of the Libby mine began in 1999 after it was declared a Superfund site. Cleanup has cost more than $447 million to date.

Asbestos-related diseases have claimed the lives of 400 Libby citizens since 1999, with more deaths expected due to the long period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of asbestos disease symptoms. Asbestos-related diseases include mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer.

The complete risk assessment has been delayed as the EPA struggles to define the lowest possible concentration of amphibole asbestos fibers that can be reasonably removed from the Libby Superfund site and looks at risk exposure levels before and after remediation, according to the Daily Interlake. The EPA has missed two deadlines for a risk assessment – one in 2005 and another in 2007.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation from the companies that made the products responsible for your asbestos exposure. Contact Sokolove Law today to find out more about your legal options.

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