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EPA Moves To Transfer Oversight Of Libby, Troy Superfund Sites To Montana

The town of Libby.
EPA Moves To Transfer Oversight Of Libby, Troy Superfund Sites To Montana

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took another step this week toward transferring oversight of the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site to the state. EPA released the first of two plans outlining how the state will mitigate the spread of any remaining contamination in Libby and Troy.

Since 1999, the EPA has removed asbestos and vermiculite from over 2,600 private and industrial properties in Libby and Troy. The agency says the cleanup in those two Superfund units is done, and now it plans to hand oversight of the two cities to the state for ongoing mitigation efforts.

The EPA released its Institutional Control Implementation and Assurance Plan for public comment Monday. It’s one of two plans the agency will release before it gives control to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

"Now, in the case of Libby here, they are reaching out and working with Lincoln County and the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program to help them work on this," EPA’s Mike Cirian says.

It all comes down to preventing the spread of any known or unknown contamination left behind inside buildings or the surrounding environment.

This plan essentially outlines the responsibilities of DEQ and the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program (ARP), when it comes to working with property owners who are remodeling their home or constructing a new building.

“So somebody calls UDig, ARP will get that call as well and they’re part of the response that goes out, looks at where they’re digging, and they will talk with either the builder or the homeowner who called UDig and find out what they’re doing and go, ’Oh, we can help you here,' or 'you’re good to go.’”

The plan also calls for using local ordinances requiring property owners to report contaminants wherever they come across them and outlines how that property owner will work with the county and DEQ to dispose of them.

Libby and Troy account for two of the eight units that make up the Libby Superfund Site. The EPA has already given the state control of three units and has successfully delisted one unit so far. EPA is still assessing the contamination at the vermiculite mine site that’s the source of the asbestos contamination in Libby and Troy.

The agency plans to officially give Montana DEQ oversight of the two cities in April. The comment period on the institutional control plan runs through Dec. 31.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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