Montana Public Radio

EPA Gives Final Approval To Libby Asbestos Cleanup

Feb 8, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is giving final approval to the Libby Superfund asbestos cleanup program. Work to clean up the town started about 15 years ago.

Nick Raines, Manager of the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program, says the final approval is more ceremonial than anything.

"There’s not a lot of ground-breaking news in it, but it is a fairly big milestone for both the EPA, and I think the community here. I think it’s the first big step in wrapping things up in Libby as far as the asbestos Superfund program goes."

Tina Oliphant, executive director of the Kootenai River Development Council, says she is pleased the approval was announced today because it helps with economic efforts in Lincoln County

"That’s why we were on pins and needles that this record of decision came quickly. That's why we needed it done in the beginning of 2016 so we could move on our goal to get this delisted by the end of 2016."

An EPA risk assessment last year found that the cleanup of almost 2,300 properties in Libby and nearby Troy had significantly reduced asbestos exposure risks.

But contaminated material remains in the walls of many houses and about 700 properties have yet to be investigated. The EPA estimates that final cleanup work will take another two to three years.