Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say Lincoln County residents who have not had their property inspected as part of the massive Superfund cleanup have until March 31 to contact them.
The EPA announced a “last call” for residents of Libby and Troy to participate in the asbestos cleanup. Since the early 2000s, more than 7,500 properties within the Superfund site have been inspected and about 2,440 have required cleanup actions.
The federal agency said there are about 600 properties in the Superfund area that they have not been able to inspect. It estimates that about 10 percent of them could require cleanup efforts.
Officials say if the owners do not contact them prior to March 31 and the property needs to be inspected or cleaned up in the future that the cost of that could fall on the individual owner. If a property is not inspected, the EPA will file a notice of environmental conditions with the Lincoln County Clerk and Recorder’s office so that future owners, lenders and renters can be aware that it was not inspected or cleaned.
If necessary, outdoor cleanups consist of removing contaminated soil and backfilling the area with clean soil. Indoor cleanups involve removing insulation from accessible areas inside the building. Contaminated materials are disposed of at a secure landfill and the EPA installs new insulation. The agency works with property owners to help minimize the disturbance of any cleanup and return the property to pre-cleanup conditions.
Lincoln County was designated a Superfund site in the early 2000s after it was discovered that asbestos contaminated vermiculite had sickened or killed hundreds in the community. A vermiculite mine operated north of Libby from 1963 until 1990. Since the cleanup began, air asbestos concentrations are about 100,000 times lower than when the mine was running and it is now possible to live and work in the Libby-area without excessive exposure to the contamination.
Property owners who have not participated in the inspection and cleanup program are encouraged to call (406) 293-6194 or pick up an access agreement at the EPA’s Information Center at 108 East Ninth Street in Libby.