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EPA Issues 'Last Call' For Free Asbestos Inspections In Libby, Troy

Libby Superfund map.
US Environmental Protection Agency
Libby superfund map.

People living in Libby and Troy have until the end of March to contact the Environmental Protection Agency to have their houses checked for asbestos contamination for free. The EPA issued a "last call" notice Monday.

This is one of the last steps for Superfund-related residential cleanup in Libby. Over the past 18 years, the EPA has inspected 7,600 of the 8,100 private properties potentially contaminated with asbestos. Cleanups took place at about a quarter of those homes.

Now, the agency is hopeful a remaining 620 holdouts will get in touch:

It's not just me, it's not just you. It's what about the future? What about the kids," says Mike Cirian, the EPA's project manager for the Libby Superfund Site.

"It's breaking and eliminating the exposures that you know are there. and the more of those we can eliminate, the more we know, the more we have done, the better off the community is as a whole," Cirian says.

After the March 31 deadline, Cirian says the EPA can't guarantee there will be crews on hand to run inspections, so homeowners may become financially responsible if they want cleanup in the future.

Nick Raines, manager of the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program says some people haven’t taken advantage of the EPA's inspections, because they say they don't trust the government or don't think their house is contaminated.

Raines hopes the EPA’s hard deadline will change their minds:

"We've heard for years that EPA is approaching the end, they're getting closer to finishing the project, but this really signifies true light at the end of the tunnel, that things are wrapping up."

The Libby Superfund Site has eight areas for cleanup, about half of which have been completed, but there are likely still years of work ahead. The EPA says cleanups have been effective in reducing cancer risks in Libby and Troy, and airborne asbestos concentrations today are about 100,000 times lower than when the mine and processing facilities were operating.

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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