Nearly $2.5 Million Headed to Libby for Asbestos Screenings after Tester Secures Funding

$2,499,969 will provide CARD Clinic operating costs to detect asbestos-related diseases in Lincoln County

As asbestos clean-up efforts continue in Lincoln County, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced nearly $2.5 million in federal funding to help screen for asbestos-related diseases in Libby and its surrounding communities.

The $2,499,969 grant will go to the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Clinic in Libby to help cover chest x-rays, breathing tests, and other ongoing operational costs. The funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and extends a program that was first authorized by the Affordable Care Act to provide preventive tests for Libby’s residents.

“The CARD Clinic is saving lives by providing screenings for folks in and around Libby,” Tester said. “This grant provides much-needed funding to cover expensive x-rays and breathing tests, helping them make Lincoln County safer and healthier.”

Hundreds of Libby residents have died and thousands more have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases since W.R. Grace closed its vermiculite mine in 1990. The uncovering of widespread contamination in Lincoln County communities in 2000 prompted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to place Libby on its Superfund National Priorities List in 2002.

“We can’t thank Senator Tester enough for his long term support,” said Dr. Brad Black, CEO of the CARD Clinic. “He recognizes that health effects from Libby Amphibole exposure continue to be a pervasive problem that will go on for years due to latency of the disease. He continues to help CARD maintain critical services for individuals who have suffered ill health effects.”

Tester has been an outspoken and consistent advocate for intensified clean-up and disease prevention for Libby and its surrounding communities. Earlier this year, he took EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to task for attempting to cut one-third of the EPA budget, potentially putting funding for Superfund clean-ups at risk. He also met with Dr. Black following the Trump Administration’s recent attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing the clinic’s future.

This spring, Tester helped designate the week of April 1-7, 2019 as “National Asbestos Awareness Week” as part of his ongoing efforts to combat the dangers of exposure, and he again reintroduced the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act to completely ban the use of asbestos, which is still legal in the United States.