What is EPA doing to determine if processing plants around the United States that accepted vermiculite ore from the Libby site are contaminated?
EPA is examining processing facilities which may have been recipients of asbestos-containing vermiculite ore from the Libby mine. The EPA review is in two parts. First EPA will review the location of facilities which have been provisionally identified from records at the Libby mine and from other sources, and determine the accuracy of these records. Second, after positively identifying the site and its physical location, EPA will determine whether the facility actually processed Libby vermiculite, and whether the processing facility is still in use either as a facility for vermiculite or for another commercial or industrial process. EPA expects to complete this phase of the assessment within the next 4-6 weeks for all of the facilities which EPA believes once were used for vermiculite processing. If it is confirmed from this first step that vermiculite was processed and contamination is likely a second more detailed investigation will be conducted. The second investigation will include at least detailed sampling of air and soil around the facility. Other types of samples from surrounding areas may be collected if there is a concern that the vermiculite may have migrated off the immediate property of the processing facility. If there is a site which presents a major health hazard due to asbestos or vermiculite residue or materials remaining on site, EPA will move swiftly to remove or contain the hazardous material on the site. Nationally, EPA continues to work with other Federal, and state environmental and health agencies to determine the extent of vermiculite processing around the U.S.
Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery