Asbestos in the attics of Libby, Montana – Asbestos litigation news

Montana mesothelioma lawyers reports: Libby, Montana ( –Health Report) — Any home built before or in the 1980s is likely to contain asbestos-containing materials, which means that this article is vital to the majority of American Homeowners. Many contractors during this time elected to use asbestos because of its light, durable, and fireproof qualities. It also is an excellent insulator that was used in many attics and basements too lock in cool or hot temperatures. This type of insulation is commonly known as vermiculite. Vermiculite is a mineral substance that was mined by W.R. Grace & Company near Libby, Montana. According to EPA statistics, more than 70% of the vermiculite used for attic insulation in the U.S. came from this one mine.

Unfortunately, the mine was contaminated with asbestos; therefore any vermiculite from the mine is also contaminated. Libby has population of less than 3,000, and 12,000 people live within a ten-mile radius. Thousands of Libby residents have experienced problems due to the mining activities in that region. In fact, in 1985 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that some 940,000 homes in America were insulated with material made from vermiculite ore, and later EPA findings said that number could actually be much higher. Health studies show that residents of Libby are developing lung cancer at a rate 30 percent higher than expected when compared with rates in other areas of Montana and the United States.

EPA has been working in Libby since 1999 when an Emergency Response Team was sent to investigate local concern and news articles about asbestos-contaminated vermiculite. Since then, EPA has been working closely with the community to clean up contamination and maintain safe living standards. The Libby Mine was closed in 1990.

Allegations started to surface that the company knew full well that they were processing and selling contaminated substances but ignored the people for their profit. Due to the mass exposure to W.R. Grace’s vermiculite products, a class action lawsuit was filed in 2000, on behalf of thousands of individuals, homeowners and business owners whose buildings contained the asbestos–contaminated insulation. W.R. Grace was charged with breaking environmental laws and conspiring to cover up the dangers connected to the asbestos disaster at the company’s mine. Since 1991, approximately 72,000 asbestos cases from across the United States, including at least 15 Grace cases from Montana, have been transferred to Judge Charles Weiner in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for pretrial proceedings. W.R. Grace has agreed to pay a record $250 million to reimburse the federal government for the costs of the investigation and cleanup of asbestos contamination. W.R. Grace is now responding by asking the Supreme Court to reverse the federal appeals court’s ruling. But in June 2008, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal. The Supreme Court also rejected an appeal by W.R. Grace’s executives, who could face prison sentences of up to 15 years if found guilty.

To read more the cases are: W.R. Grace & Co. v. United States, 07-1286, and Henry A. Eschenbach v. United States, 07-1287.

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