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Last updated:
June 18, 2001 

Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center 

Ongoing News on Libby, Montana
Vermiculite Mine Controversy

Libby is a small town in northwestern Montana. Its economy relied for many years on the Zonolite vermiculte mine, which also contained deadly tremolite  (asbestos). Controversy surrounds the town, the mine owners, and the agencies responsible for protecting the miners and their families. Meanwhile the people of Libby continue to sicken and die. 

Recent News Items

Grace Files Bankruptcy Over Asbestos Claims (4/9/01)
Citing the growing costs of asbestos related lawsuits, W.R. Grace & Co. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company to date has received over 325,000 asbestos personal injury claims, and has paid $1.9 billion to manage and resolve asbestos related suits. To view full articles see: or (1147 bytes)

EPA Files Suit Against Grace for Cleanup Costs (4/9/01)
EPA is seeking payment from W.R. Grace for the cost of investigation and cleanup in Libby, MT. The Agency filed its complaint in federal district court in Missoula on March 30, 2001, to recover over $10 million that EPA has spent investigating and cleaning up asbestos contamination from a vermiculite mine near Libby. The lawsuit also asks the court for a declaratory judgment for any future costs expended by EPA in further investigations and cleanup at the site. EPA’s cost recovery lawsuit was filed shortly after the Montana federal Court ordered Grace to provide EPA with access to the former mine site and two other properties in Libby to conduct cleanup actions. Those cleanup actions will begin this spring. For more information contact: Matthew Cohn at 303/312-6853 or Paul Peronard at 303/ (1147 bytes)

EPA Wins Access to Grace Properties (4/9/01)
The U.S. District Court in Missoula ruled in favor of EPA and the Department of Justice, giving the federal government full access to the W.R. Grace mine site and two other properties near Libby, Montana to remove and dispose of asbestos-contaminated soil.  Rejecting Grace's arguments, the Judge ruled on March 9, 2001 that, "Defendants must allow access to the Flyway, the Bluffs, and the Mine Site for all purposes." For more information see: top.gif (1147 bytes)

Mesothelioma Benchwork and Clinical Research Grants, DEADLINE: June 15, 2001                     
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation announces its second competition for mesothelioma benchwork and clinical research grants. MARF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity whose mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease. Caused by asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is a severe, usually fatal cancer of the linings of the lungs or abdomen. Applications for funding of innovative developmental projects are solicited to stimulate translational research for the treatment of pleural or intraperitoneal mesothelioma. Proposed projects must address issues related to treatment of the disease. Mechanistic investigations that deal with causation will not be funded. For more information see: or

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top.gif (1147 bytes)Links to Libby Articles/Info

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Special Report
Seattle P-I first broke the story on the health problems of Libby, and their cause in November 1999. The "Uncivil Action" page, contains links to all their articles--including those with related asbestos information. See: or
For a sequential listing of articles see:  

Department of Environmental Quality: Libby Environmental Health Update libby/index.htm
EPA Information Center: The City of Libby epafaq.html or
http://www.libbymontana. com/public.html 
EPA Region 8: Libby, MT, Asbestos Response superfund/libby/
Montana Asbestos Consultants/Contractors/ Laboratories (DEQ List)
PDF File
Libby "Yesterday and Today"
General information on Libby, Montana, at: history.html 
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top.gif (1147 bytes)Other News

Montana H.J. 29 – Asbestos, Air (4/26/01)
This bill requests that the Department of Environmental Quality establish a task force to develop an assay method for the measurement of asbestos to assist in the establishment of an ambient air standard based on human health risks from chronic exposure to asbestos. The sponsor of this bill is Representative Eileen Carney (D). It has passed the House Judiciary Committee, and a Senate Committee Hearing was held on March 10, 2001. For more information see:

Has the Use of Asbestos Really Been Banned In America? (12/11/00)
The Seattle Post-Intelligencier reports: "Almost everyone believes that the mining, production, sale and use of asbestos in America has been banned. They're wrong. Since November1999 [we have] published a series of reports on the continuing risks posed by the nation's asbestos legacy." Most recently, it is auto brake mechanics who are found suffering. "Like former mine workers in Libby, Mont. they're being unknowingly exposed to deadly amounts of asbestos. And, as in Libby, the federal government long knew workers exposed to asbestos-contaminated dust could die from lung disease." For the full article see:

Justice Department Sues for Libby Mine Access, (9/25/00)
After purchasing back two thirds of the stock in Kootenai Development, to regain control over the Libby site, W.R. Grace officials informed EPA in July, "The U.S. EPA and its representatives, contractors, agents, or guests are hereby forbidden from entering" due to liability issues. In response, and in order to accelerate efforts to clean up asbestos at the mine (which has been blamed for more than 200 deaths), the Justice Department has filed suit in federal court seeking immediate access to the closed vermiculite mine and screening plant in Libby. For more information see:

Digestion Material for Asbestos (4/18/00)
DMA is a chemical digestion system developed by W.R. Grace & Co. and Brookhaven National Laboratory, that is capable of destroying chrysotile asbestos fibers present in spray-applied fireproofing without diminishing the existing fire-resistive performance. Questions about this product should be directed to Dr. Leonard Dohlert of the Grace DMA Development Group at 410/531-4188 or

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