Cleanup for Montana Superfund town would leave some asbestos contamination behind

Markets Associated Press

A cleanup proposal for a Montana town where thousands have been sickened by asbestos exposure calls for leaving some of the dangerous material in place rather than removing it.

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Details on the final cleanup plan for Libby, Montana, were to be released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA project manager Rebecca Thomas said asbestos would be left behind only where there is minimal risk of human exposure, such as underground or behind the walls of houses.

Some Libby residents worry the material could escape and re-contaminate the community.

The EPA has spent $540 million since 1999 trying to clean up deadly asbestos dust from a W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine.

Scientists say even small exposures to Libby's potent asbestos can scar lungs and cause other health problems.