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Federal Investigation Puts Libby Asbestos Program On Hold

Downtown Libby, MT.
libbymt.com
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Downtown Libby, MT.

Funding for a Libby asbestos program is now on hold while the federal government investigates allegations of misspent grant money.

Libby’s Asbestos Resource Program helps residents manage asbestos if they plan to disturb soil on their property. It’s funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison:

"We’ve been notified by the county that there have been some questions about consistencies with federal grant regulations. That’s something our agency is currently evaluating."

Earlier this year Lincoln County commissioners realized some EPA grant money was paying for legal services. An independent auditor hired by the county said that’s not supposed to happen. County officials told the EPA about the problem, which triggered the evaluation.

Agency spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison says the program can continue to operate, but:

"It’s the reimbursements that are going to be subject to the grant review."

The county has already covered the costs of the legal fees. It’s now waiting to hear back from the EPA about the exact dollar amount owed to that agency.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at edward.obrien@umt.edu.
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