The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 31 Superfund sites for redevelopment. The site list includes locations such as Libby Montana, home to vermiculite mines contaminated with dangerous amphibole asbestos. Superfund sites are places the EPA has deemed particularly dangerous due to environmental contamination.
The Zonolite Company began mining in Libby back in the 1920’s, work taken over by W.R. Grace when they purchased the mine in 1963. The vermiculite mined was found to contain a highly dangerous friable form of asbestos called tremolite-actinolite asbestos, which became known simply as “Libby Amphibole asbestos”. EPA testing found it in dust, soil, water, even in animal and fish tissues in the surrounding area. The EPA declared the Libby Asbestos site a Superfund site in 2002, with plans to finish cleanup by 2018. The asbestos contamination was so widespread the EPA issued a public emergency in 2009, the first for the agency. The emergency declaration allowed for federal funding to assist residents dealing with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos related diseases.
In January 2018 the EPA listed their plans to redevelop portions of the Libby Montana site, along with 30 other sites around the country. The EPA funds cleanup using a mixture of public money and funds taken from companies responsible for the damage. The goal of a Superfund cleanup is to reduce environmental damage and public danger so these contaminated areas can be turned over to the community for redevelopment. After 16 years, the time for Libby is beginning.
The full list of new sites the EPA has marked for redevelopment:
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