EPA Completes Final Cleanups of Libby Properties
A nineteen-year effort to remove asbestos-contaminated soil from Libby, Mont., neared its conclusion in November with EPA’s announcement that it had completed the last of 2,600 scheduled cleanups of properties in Libby and the neighboring town of Troy. The area is an abundant source of vermiculite, a versatile mineral that was mined in Libby beginning in the 1920s and shipped throughout North America in products ranging from insulation to fertilizer. As is now widely known, Libby vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos. The mining and processing of vermiculite ore spread asbestos throughout the town. Possible health effects of exposure to asbestos include lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and pleural thickening. In 2002, EPA designated Libby a Superfund site, committing to a long-term cleanup. The agency declared a public health emergency in Libby in 2009. For more information, see EPA’s risk assessment (PDF) and the agency’s announcement of the cleanup’s conclusion.
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