Tester statement on Libby’s asbestos cleanup report

Senator reaffirms support for health and safety of families in northwest Montana

(U.S. Senate)-Following the completion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final asbestos cleanup plan, Senator Jon Tester is reaffirming his commitment to the long-term health and safety of residents in Libby and the surrounding communities.

This week, the EPA released its final Record of Decision (ROD), which identifies actions taken and outlines the future steps remaining to complete the cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby and Troy. After the release of the ROD, Tester stressed his commitment to completing the cleanup process and ensuring families in Libby have access to the long-term care they need.

“Folks in Libby deserve transparency and predictability during this cleanup process,” Tester said. “This Record of Decision is an important milestone and it provides a path toward completing the cleanup of homes, schools, and businesses impacted by asbestos exposure. I will continue my fight to ensure that families from northwest Montana have a voice in this process and that we continue to take the steps needed to build a strong future for Libby.”

In 2007, Tester along with former Senator Max Baucus, pushed the EPA to complete a long-term health assessment to analyze the exposure and health risks related to the type of asbestos found at the Libby Superfund Site. That assessment was completed in 2014.

Last year, Tester helped secure four more years of funding for the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases in Libby so it can continue to provide asbestos disease and lung cancer screening, outreach, and education for residents impacted by asbestos exposure.

High amounts of asbestos contamination led the EPA to place Libby on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in 2002. The abundance of asbestos is the result of a vermiculite mine operated in Libby until 1990. Hundreds of Libby residents have died of asbestos-related diseases.

Since being listed on the NPL, the EPA has completed the cleanup of 2,275 contaminated properties and inspected more than 7,100 properties in the Libby area. The EPA estimates that cleanup is still needed at a few hundred properties and expects to complete the final cleanup phase in two or three years.