New Source of Asbestos Raises Fears in Montana Superfund Town

"LIBBY, MONT. — For a decade, the people of Libby have longed for the day when they will be rid of the asbestos that turned their town into the deadliest Superfund site in America.

Now they are being forced to live through the agony all over again, thanks to two giant piles of bark and wood chips on the edge of town.

An Associated Press investigation found that the federal government has known for at least three years that the wood piles were contaminated with an unknown level of asbestos, even as Libby residents hauled truckload after truckload of the material away from the site and placed it in yards, in city parks, outside schools and at the local cemetery. The Environmental Protection Agency did not stop the removal of the material until the AP began investigating in early March.

Regulators still do not know what effect the material could have on public health, but EPA documents obtained by the AP showed that the agency found potentially deadly asbestos fibers in four of 20 samples taken from the piles of scrap wood in 2007. The sprawling piles came from a now-defunct timber mill that took thousands of trees from a forest tainted with asbestos from a nearby mine."

Matthew Brown reports for the Associated Press July 5, 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011