photo via www.adrworks.com
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson today announced that her agency has determined that a public health emergency exists in Montana's little town of Libby. The town has suffered hundreds of asbestos-related disease cases and will now have $6 million dollars to help clean it up. From the EPA press release:
Investigations performed by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry have found the incidence of occurrence of asbestosis, a lung condition, in the Libby area staggeringly higher than the national average for the period from 1979-1998. EPA is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, which is making available a short-term grant to provide needed asbestos-related medical care to Libby and Troy residents.
Jackson had previously committed to reviewing the situation. As a result of the EPA's review, "the Administrator has decided that conditions at the site present a significant threat to public health and that making a public health emergency determination is appropriate."
Montana Senators Tester and Baucus have been loud advocates for action at the site. CNN reports that a site in the town first began producing vermiculite -- a mineral often used in insulation -- in 1919. People lived with the dust on their cars and in their homes but it has lead to countless illnesses and deaths.