Asbestos nearly destroyed the town of Libby, Montana. To date, more than 400 people have died from asbestos exposure, and more than 1,700 have fallen ill. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared it a state of emergency, and the Obama administration used $130 million worth of resources to clean the town and provide medical care for the hundreds suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
‘Phoenix from the ashes’
Many were skeptical about the cleanup efforts. For years, the WR Grace and Co. plant spewed toxic asbestos particles across the town of 3,000 people. The plant was used to store large quantities of vermiculite, a material that contains asbestos. A 12-year cleanup process has finally produced a sign of hope: green grass, new trees and a park where the plant used to be. The city has scheduled a concert for the area, and one couple used the park for their wedding.
“It’s sort of like a phoenix from the ashes,” said Libby mayor Doug Roll. “We’ve had a lot of negative stuff going on and we’re trying to turn that around.”
More Work to Come
While the town has made considerable progress in eradicating the harmful asbestos particles, the EPA state of emergency still remains in effect. Officials say that since vermiculite is difficult to remove, the area is not completely safe yet. They hope to eradicate as much asbestos as they can within the next three to five years.
Now that we know how dangerous asbestos is to human lungs, there is no excuse for improperly handling asbestos particles. If you believe that asbestos exposure contributed to your or a loved one’s poor health, talk to us. The consultation is free, and we might be able to help.
Cappolino Dodd Krebs LLP – asbestos attorneys