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Lincoln County asbestos cleanup to be turned over to county, state officials

Posted at 11:57 AM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 14:37:20-04

A Montana lawmaker says the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still on track to hand over responsibility for Libby asbestos monitoring to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Lincoln County, capping nearly 20-years of cleanup.

Millions of dollars have been spent eradicating asbestos from decades of operations at the WR Grace Mine, which spread contamination throughout Libby and Troy.

The EPA finished the cleanup of residential and business properties last fall and has spent this year working with a transition team to prepare state and local agencies to take over asbestos monitoring.

Republican Montana State Representative Steve Gunderson says there are still details to be reviewed and finalized in the coming months, but the hand-off should be complete next April.

“It will be the EPA to the state, the states going to be a partner in that and then it’ll go to the county from there. I don’t think it’ll ever be directly handled by the county it’ll always be a county state collaborative," Gunderson said.

While Libby waits, Gunderson says Lincoln County officials have worked with the state for the past two decades on a unique program, the asbestos response program, to limit asbestos exposure.

The program allows those to work with the state and county to eradicate and test their properties for asbestos anytime.