EPA in Libby, Montana Again — Final Cleanup?

US EPA LogoI urge everyone to read Libby, Montana’s The Western News May 8, 2015 article – EPA releases proposal plan – (continues on page 7A). There is hope that this cleanup effort will surpass previous efforts. In 2006 the EPA raised the standard to a higher testing criteria: from a 5-point composite sample to a 30-point composite sample. With this more thorough sample, the finest particles of tremolite, for example, should not slip by unnoticed. The EPA estimates that 100 previously examined sites will be re-examined. This is good news for Libby, a small city that deserves a final, accurate cleanup report to show the world that the nightmare is finally over. The illnesses go on for many, but there is a brighter future ahead.

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Montana U. S. Senators Need to Research Asbestos Use in America

(The following blog post is an extension of a Letter to the Editor published in The Western News  on May 1 2015.)

Montana’s two U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steven Daines highlighted “Asbestos Awareness Week.” Their article appeared April 3rd in Libby, Montana’s newspaper, The Western News, especially honoring the many people who are ill and have passed away painfully suffering from various illnesses due to asbestos exposure.

While I appreciate their kind comments and concern for Libby folks, I was heartbroken when I read the following excerpt from their article:

Asbestos Kills     “While asbestos is no longer mined in Libby and no longer legally used in manufacturing, in America”, Black said, “it’s important to keep up the campaign for awareness.”

      “Asbestos is still mined and used in products in other places around the world,” Black said. “The diseases are still there. They keep happening. People need to be aware of this. It’s another preventable disease we could wipe off the books if we go after it.”

According to the EPA website, many products are made using asbestos here in the United States (not in Libby). There is a widespread misconception about asbestos in the USA. Most people believe that the government banned asbestos. It is NOT illegal, as many people think. It was banned for a brief period of time, but the 1989 ban on asbestos was overturned in 1991, and it is still used in many products that are made and used in the USA. The following information is quoted directly from the current EPA website: http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/us-federal-bans-asbestos Continue reading

I Can’t Breathe! A Theme of Abuse

W.R. Grace plant smoke spreading tremolite asbestos dust over Libby, MontanaWelcome to the I Can’t Breathe! website. This mystery novel takes place in Libby, Montana in 1958, specifically with other Northwest communities and rural areas including Kalispell, Missoula, Eureka, areas in between—and Canada. I grew up in Libby, and I have enjoyed writing about familiar territory.

The theme of abuse runs through this novel. Corporate abuse: the Zonolite Mining Company provided asbestos ore to many other companies and made billions of dollars yearly. The company took the shortest route to profits by omitting safe working conditions for the mining employees. Exposure to asbestos resulted in several painful illnesses and death for the miners, their families, the community of Libby, and literally millions of consumers of asbestos products throughout the world. Continue reading