EPA Discusses 2008 Asbestos Cleanup
by Duane Williams, KLCB 1230 AM Libby News Radio
January 12, 2008
It was much like watching an old movie for the umpteenth time. It was a sense of deja vu. We've been here many times before.
That was the EPA meeting at the Little Theatre Thursday evening. A meeting that was purported to be an opportunity to provide input into the asbestos cleanup process.
EPA project manager Paul Peronard came with a Power Point of the EPA 2008 cleanup schedule and essentially gave the community a choice. The community could choose to clean up the asbestos-laden rip-rap in the creeks, or choose to clean up the asbestos contaminated tee-boxes and greens of the original nine at Cabinet View Country Club's golf course.
Those of the community present did not want to choose either. They did not want to make choices. They made it known loud and clear they want the cleanup done. All of it! And they want the government to cough up the money to get it done.
Peronard admitted that mistakes have been made in the going on eight year project. The wrong approaches to problems, not taking the input from locals who know what has been done and where, looking in the wrong quarries and the wrong sections of creek bed.
Eight years later there still is no risk assessment upon which to base the remediation actions that have already been taken, and no animal studies to look at the epidemiology to determine toxicity of the tremolite asbestos fibers that blanket the community.
The EPA has spent $17 million a year for the last eight years on the clean up alone and millions more on other aspects of the project without a basic road map of where the EPA is going. Those at Thursday's meeting are definitely tired. And while they credit Peronard with doing everything he can do, they fault the EPA hierarchy for stonewalling the project from Denver middle-management all the way to the top.
Senator Max Baucus, who has been instrumental in helping Libby deal with the asbestos problem, recently said it is obvious to him that political pressure has been brought to the EPA to prevent it from declaring a health emergency in Libby. That action would provide the money to get the cleanup done, but would open the flood gates for 35 million home owners nationwide with Libby asbestos-tainted vermiculite insulation to expect mitigation.
The meeting was again the same script, the same characters, the same old movie.