News & Features

Libby Superfund Advisory Team to Hold First Meeting

Advisory council aims to improve communication between asbestos cleanup stakeholders

A newly created advisory council aiming to streamline communications between local, state and federal stakeholders in the Libby Asbestos Superfund cleanup will have its first meeting on Sept. 21 in Helena.

Libby Asbestos Superfund Advisory Team was created during the 2017 Legislature to advise the Montana Department of Environmental Quality as it directs the future of the cleanup and potential institutional controls.

Advisory team members include the Montana DEQ director, a representative of the Lincoln County Commission, local residents, and members of the Montana House and Senate who represent Lincoln County and are selected by Legislative leadership.

In the coming months, the Montana DEQ will also establish a full-time Superfund liaison to perform duties as recommended by the asbestos advisory team.

The first advisory council meeting is Sept. 21 at the Montana DEQ office in Helena at 1:30 p.m. People can also attend remotely by calling (833) 821-3112 and using the conference number 883438 or via Skype by going to https://rtchelena.mt.gov/meet/jchambers/ZN75K3S5.

For years, the W.R. Grace & Co. mined vermiculite containing asbestos north of Libby that was used for instillation and other applications. The mine closed in 1990. More than 2,000 current or former residents of Lincoln County have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, including cancer, and at least 400 have died in the last decade.

Libby was declared an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in 2002, becoming one of the largest environmental cleanups in U.S. history. In 2009, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson named the town the agency’s first and only Public Health Emergency resulting from an environmental disaster.

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