Libby Cleanup Efforts Wind Down

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup efforts in the asbestos-riddled town of Libby, Montana are winding down for the calendar year and the organization is looking ahead to 2008 and beginning to make decisions on how money will be spent when January arrives.

According to a story aired on Montana’s CBS affiliates, the EPA has reached out to the citizens of Libby during the last few weeks, asking them to help set budget priorities for the coming year. They believe that community input is of the utmost importance, an EPA spokesperson pointed out.

As of the end of this week, Environmental Protection Agency workers will have removed asbestos from 160 homes and properties this year alone and expect that cleanup efforts will reach at least that same number next year.

Also next year, cleanup will extend to the neighboring town of Troy, Montana. The EPA began inspecting properties in that town earlier this year and determined that cleanup efforts were indeed necessary. The news report indicates that those inspections will continue next year but actual asbestos removal projects will begin in at least half a dozen places.

The town of Libby represents the worst case of industrial pollution in the nation. Thousands of residents have been sickened by asbestos diseases and hundreds have already died as a result of contamination from a local vermiculite mine owned and operated by the W.R. Grace Company. Currently, the company and several of its executives are facing charges in federal court for knowingly exposing its workers to dangerous asbestos.

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