EPA Will Invest in Mesothelioma Emergency in Montana

 

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that there is a health emergency in the small town of Libby, Montana. So far, residents claim that mesothelioma has taken the lives of about 200 people; many other people are suffering from asbestos-related sickness.

The Montana town was covered in a mineral called vermiculite as a result of nearby mining until 1990. Vermiculite is used in many different insulation materials, and although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some vermiculite can be contaminated with the dangerous substance. The vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana was contaminated with asbestos.

Residents say that the use of vermiculite in the area was so prolific throughout the mine’s existence, that the town is used it for several different town improvements. At one point, the vermiculite was used to cover the high-school track; other residents claim they used vermiculite in their gardens as mulch.

The town is now suffering hundreds of mesothelioma-related cases, and thousands of asbestos-related illness cases. As a result of the toxic exposure in the town, the EPA has declared they will put more than $130 million into cleaning up the town and helping the asbestos victims.

This award has been long in coming and is too little too late for some of the residents of Libby, but it is at least an acknowledgement that people suffered as a result of an unchecked mining operation. A way of living for some should not be a death sentence for many.