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Libby Community Advisory Group
Meeting Summary

August 8, 2002


Gerald Mueller and members of the Libby Community Advisory Group (CAG) introduced themselves. A list of the members and guests in attendance is attached below as Appendix 1.


Mr. Mueller reviewed an agenda for this meeting, including the following topics:

Presentation by Bruce Vincent

Intermountain Administrators Health Plan

Public Comment

CAG Member Comment - I want to commend EPA for its efforts on behalf of Libby. The US Forest Service has so much information that it is 10 years behind in its actions. We need to be careful in our activities that we do not get buried with information.

ATSDR Report

Dan Strausbaugh reported on behalf of ATSDR on the following topics.

September 12 CAG Meeting

Dr. Vikas Kapil, Sharon Campolucci, and David Williamson will be attending the September 12 CAG meeting rather than August 22 as previously announced. They would like to meet the CAG members before the September 26th presentations and will answer questions from the CAG.

September 26 Meetings

ATSDR personnel will present the results of the combined medical testing, the CT study, and the mortality study at two meetings in Libby on Thursday, September 26, 2002, one from 1 to 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon and one from 7 to 9:00 p.m. in the evening. The meeting locations will be announced.

Public Availability Session

The ATSDR Public Availability Session which is part of the Public Health Assessment will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 27 and 28. This session will provide people of Libby with an opportunity to talk about their health concerns related to asbestos exposure with ATSDR scientists and medical officials.

ATSDR Mortality Study

Mr. Strausbaugh provided a copy of the Libby mortality study to CAG members. The study will be released next week, and additional copies will be available then at the EPA/ATSDR Information Center.

ATSDR Office Staff

After September 30, 2002, ATSDR will no longer have a full-time person at the EPA/ATSDR Information Center in Libby. The office phone will remain with a message directing people to the toll free number for Mr Strausbaugh's Helena office.

Presentation by Dr. Edlund and Dr. Richards

Sandy Wagner introduced two University of Montana Professors, Dr. Eric Edlund and Dr. Becky Richards. Together, they will be responding to a request for a research proposal from EPA seeking to improve community involvement and tools for summarizing complex data. Dr. Edlund summarized work he has underway using an internet based geographic information system (GIS) to improve communication and public involvement. Dr. Edlund and Dr. Richards are seeking a local Libby community partner for their research as well as a local Libby entity that can use and ultimately assume responsibility for the data base their project will create. They will seek to identify a steering committee of Libby residents as a part of their research if it is funded by EPA.

CAG Member Question - Have you surveyed Libby to determine how many people have computers?

Answer - We do not have recent data on computer numbers. We have anecdotal information from internet providers. The utility of our research results would not be limited to computer owners, however, because computers are available in public libraries.

CAG Member Question - What kinds of information might be available through internet web sites you would developed?

Answer - Information about the status and history of the cleanup and community health concerns could be presented using a web-based GIS. The steering committee and this group could advise us about the information that should be provided.

CAG Member Question - Could people input information into your system about where and when they might have lived in a certain area of Libby?

Answer - We intend to make the system interactive, so that, as an example, they might specify where they lived during a certain period.

Audience Member Question - Will you be providing training to high school and community college teachers and students and other community members who are not computer savvy?

Answer - Yes, we hope to include provision for such training in the grant request. Our system would provide a useful learning tool about geographic information systems and the internet.

Dr. Richards stated that she and Dr. Edlund are aware of the need for privacy and ethical guidelines in an interactive system. Information provided on and to the system must respect people's confidentiality concerns.

EPA Report

Mr. Nguyen began by thanking the Libby community for its support of EPA's cleanup activities. He then reported on behalf of EPA on the following subjects.

Introductions - Mr. Nguyen introduced Floyd Nichols who will be assisting Jim Christiansen, Patty Kalla who is from EPA Headquarters, and Craig Meyers who is training as an EPA On Scene Coordinator.

Residential and Business Sampling and Cleanups - Cleanup of residential properties began this past Monday. EPA intends to clean 50 homes by the end of this year. Individual work plans are developed for each residential cleanup. EPA now has one team working on the cleanups and will add two additional teams, one more to work on cleanups and one to work on restoration. Soil removed from residential cleanups will be taken to the mine for disposal, and Zonolite insulation removed will be taken to the new cell at the Lincoln County landfill. About 1,300 homes have been sampled to date, which is about 50% of the target number of homes. About 2% of the property owners have refused to allow EPA's contractors access for the sampling, a low number. Jim Christiansen is visiting with those that initially deny access, and some are then allowing the sampling.

Screening Plant - Clean, agricultural quality top soil is being brought to the site to replace contaminated soil that was removed. Work at this site should be completed by September 30.

Expansion Plant - Currently not much is happening because of a problem between Millwork West and W.R. Grace regarding movement of the planer. EPA has sent a letter to W.R. Grace asking it to go forward with moving the planer, and we are awaiting W.R. Grace's reply.

School Tracks - Asphalt will be installed at the middle school track beginning next Tuesday. Restoration of the middle school track should be completed before school starts. EPA is attempting to install a rubberized surface on the high school track, so that it will be one of the best in Montana. However, the surface requires five weeks to cure and temperatures must remain above 48. We hope the surface will be ready by the end of September.

Plummer Elementary - The ice rink was cleaned up last year. We intend to begin a thorough investigation of the school grounds in September. We do not anticipate any delay of school activities.

Rainy Creek Road - Last year the first one-half mile of the road was paved and a decontamination station was installed. This year we will pave up to the two mile marker. A local paving contractor is being used. We anticipate one truck load of contaminated soils per week moving over the road to the mine for disposal.

County Landfill - Work on constructing the new landfill cell began two weeks ago. We are now preparing the surface. About eight weeks will be required to finish construction. The disposal capacity of the new cell will be 130,000 cubic yards of contaminated material.

Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) - Wendy Thomi reported that EPA has committed funds for the TAG. The grant may be awared within one month. It can be awarded when a site is proposed for inclusion on the National Priorities List; waiting for formal listing is not required. No reimbursement may be made until the TAG steering committee is incorporated.

Audience Member Question - How will you prevent airborne contamination when the insulation is trucked to the County landfill?

Answer - The insulation is removed from homes by a vacuum truck and double bagged. No airborne contamination will occur, when the bags are trucked to the landfill. At the landfill, the bags are disposed of in layers, and each layer will be covered with two inches of soil. Groundwater monitoring wells will surround the landfill to insure that off-side groundwater contamination does not occur.

Audience Member Question - You said that the high school tracks will be completed by the end of September. The first home football game is scheduled for September 16. Does this mean that at least this home game will have to be rescheduled?

Answer - We are developing a plan to ensure that work this year will be finished by September 15, so that the football season will not be disrupted. We are in contact with the rubberized surface manufacturer to see if the curing process can be accelerated. If, however, temperatures are too low for the curing process, we may surface the track temporarily with asphalt and install the rubberized surface next year.

St. John's Lutheran Hospital Report

Rick Palagi reported on behalf of the Hospital and covered the following topics.

Home Sampling - Mr. Palagi stated that his home was sampled today by the EPA contractors, and he was impressed with their professionalism and courtesy.

CAG Member Commitment - Mr. Palagi congratulated the CAG members who have been attending and participating in CAG meetings over the last three years. Doing so has required significant commitment.

Senator Baucus Visit and Draft Letter - Mr. Palagi mentioned that Senator Baucus will be visiting Libby tomorrow, and he recommended recognizing and saluting the Senator's work on behalf of the Libby community. He then circulated to the CAG and audience the draft letter to Senator Baucus contained below in Appendix 2. The letter addressed two points. First, it supported Senator Baucus' efforts in exploring the creation of a national "white lung" program. Mr. Palagi stated that Todd O'Hare of the Governor's office and John Flink of the Montana Hospital Association recommended that support for a potential program at this time be general and not attempt to recommend the details of who and what it should cover. Time will be available as the federal legislative process proceeds to think about and offer specific advice about program details. The second point in the letter was support for Senator Baucus' efforts to identify expertise available within the federal health agencies to help Libby project the amount of health care services that might be required in 30 to 40 years to care for those sick with asbestos related diseases.

CAG Member Comment - The biggest issue is a unified expression of support by this community for consideration of a white lung program that will meet our medical needs.

CAG Member Question - Why shouldn't we limit our support to health concerns here related to exposure to tremolite asbestos?

Answer - Momentum appears to be building for a federal white lung program. It may be one of many funding mechanisms. We should work to ensure that a white lung program would happen in the best way for Libby. Local programs might function to fill any holes in the national program.

CAG Member Comment - We have two programs, the W.R. Grace Medical Plan and Medicare, in which the bar was set too high for Libby. We have already been forced to seek supplemental help to fill the holes in the Medicare program. The one size fits all approach won't work for us. Some 400,000 people have been exposed to asbestos nation wide. Other people who have been exposed have other viable sources of compensation. With the W.R. Grace bankruptcy, we do not. We need to continue to focus on a local medical trust.

CAG Member Comment - If we get a white lung program, we won't be able to go back to the federal funding well.

Audience Member Comment - We should ask Senator Baucus for a Libby white lung program that might be expanded to meet other national needs.

Audience Member Comment - We don't want a national program until after we get a Libby program.

CAG Member Comment - We do need a Libby white lung program. Most of what is know about asbestos disease related to chrysotile asbestos and does not apply to our situation. I agree that we need a Libby white lung program that might be expanded to meet national needs.

CAG Member Question - What time frame do you recommend waiting to supply advice about white lung program details?

Answer - It will apparently be the next session of the Congress before any bills related to a white lung program will be advanced.

CAG Member Comment - The 30 to 40 year period for providing care is too short and should be 80 to 90 years.

CAG Member Question - How can you project health care costs?

Answer by Brad Black - Doing so is difficult. About 20% of the population has significant adverse outcomes from exposure to respiratory toxins. There are different ways to approach providing long-term health care needs. One way might be to fund the clinic to provide long-term medical care.

CAG Member Comment - The most important thing now is a unified expression of support from the community. We need agreement from the six groups listed in the letter signature block plus others.

Audience Member Comment - Speaking as the chair of the County Health Board, the greatest need may be here in Libby, but the rest of the county also has unmet health care needs. I would recommend reworking the letter to include this fact.

CAG Action - After tentatively agreeing to remove the work "national" from point 1) in the draft letter, the CAG decided to form a subcommittee of Rick Palagi, Sandy Wagner, and Clinton Maynard to redraft the letter for consideration at the September CAG meeting. Gerald Mueller will email the August 8 draft to the CAG email list and ask that comments be sent back to Mr. Palagi or Ms. Wagner. For people who do not have email, a copy of the August 8 draft letter will also be available for review in the EPA Information Center. The subcommittee will meet on August 23 to redraft the letter.

Presentation by Tracy Velazquez

Tracy Velazquez addressed the CAG about a Public Health Outreach Grant that she and Dennis Alexander are preparing to submit to the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). Ms. Velazquez and Mr. Alexander are under contract with Lincoln County to write grants to obtain financial support for Libby's asbestos-related medical needs. Ms. Velazquez and other community members last month visited Montana's Congressional delegation in Washington D.C. The group thanked Senator Baucus for his support. Ms. Velazquez stated that Senator Baucus' staff understands the issues facing Libby. The Public Health Outreach Grant would be a three year, one-time-only grant for $160,000 per year. It would be used to coordinate services among all health providers. It would fund the CARD Clinic to provide one point of entry and case management for medical and non-medical asbestos-related care. To stretch the money as far as possible, the grant would include partnering with the new 501c(3). Ms. Velazquez passed out to the CAG and audience a survey designed to elicit the community's asbestos-related health care needs. The survey will also be available at the EPA Information Center and by contacting Ms. Velazquez at

Presentation by Todd Trigsted

Todd Trgsted presented an example of an interactive CD rom which he created for the Butte Superfund site to provide public education about the contamination from past mining and smelting activities and the related social history of these activities. Mr. Trigsted would be interested in an interactive public education tool for the Libby cleanup.

Bruce Vincent

Bruce Vincent, a Libby resident, addressed the CAG about obtaining a timber supply for the Stimson mill and a possible source of funds for Libby's long-term health care needs. The Healthy Forests/Healthy Communities Coalition, a group of Libby people, have been meeting to consider how to obtain a long-term timber supply for Stimson's Libby operations. Presently the mill supports 320 families with wages and health insurance. Stimson has been operating using timber from Plumb Creek lands; however, the ten year agreement between Plumb Creek and Stimson will expire shortly, and Stimson will need a new timber supply. A possible source of timber is the Kootenai National Forest. According to Mr. Vincent 60 to 70 million board feet (mbf) per year is being harvested from the Kootenai Forest. Some 492 mbf grow each year on this Forest; the mortality rate is 300 million board feet per year. The coalition is seeking an increase in harvest of 20 to 30 mbf per year. A portion of the proceeds from the increased sales might be dedicated to Libby's long-term health care needs. Stimson is also facing an increase in the cost of its workers compensation insurance of about $600,000 annually because of potential liability from asbestos-related disease. This increase may reach $1 million annually, or the insurance company may cancel the workers compensation policy.

Audience Member Question - Won't environmentalists oppose an increase in the harvest level?

Answer - More and more people are recognizing the need to thin the forest to reduce fire danger and restore forest health. The mill no longer needs large logs to supply its operations. It has been retooled to use small diameter trees. Public plant tours are available at 12:30 p.m. on the next two Wednesdays.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 12, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room of Libby City Hall.

Appendix 1

CAG Member & Guest Attendance List
August 8, 2002


Group/Organization Represented

Mick Mills

Lincoln County Health Officer

Brad Black

Libby Fire Department

Gayla Benefield


Norita Skramstad

Asbestos Victim

Dan Strausbaugh


Rev. Robert Foote

Libby Ministerial Association

George Bauer

City of Libby

Duc Nguyen

EPA On Scene Coordinator

Sandy Wagner

Community Health Center

Clinton Maynard

Area Asbestos Research Group

Wendy Thomi

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator

David F. Latham

The Montanian Newspaper

Bob Dedrick

Asbestos Victim

Rick Palagi

St. John's Lutheran Hospital

Don Wilkins

Lumber & Sawmill Workers


Dr. Eric Edlund

University of Montana Geography Professor

Dr. Becky Richards

University of Montana Sociology Professor

Tracy Velazquez

Grant Writer for Lincoln County

Todd Trigsted

Bruce Vincent

Appendix 2


August 8, 2002

Honorable Senator Max Baucus
511 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Baucus:

Once again your continued efforts on behalf of our community and those individuals stricken with (or will be stricken with) asbestos related disease is greatly appreciated. Our letter today is to indicate our community support of two specific items:

1) We support your efforts in exploring the creation of a "white lung" program. This could be a major part of the answer to funding long term health care needs. At the appropriate time, we would be more than happy to provide you with input as to what health services may be covered under such a program.

2) We support your efforts to identify expertise available within the federal health agencies to help us project the amount of health care services that might be required in the next 30 to 40 years to care for those who may be afflicted with asbestos related diseases. A major road block for the work that a variety of our local agencies are engaged in is not knowing the estimated dollars needed to provide the care. The need for the expertise and on-site resources to abstract medical information and forecast the amount of illness we can expect is a critical piece we still need.

Thank you.

Citizen's Advisory Group (CAG)

CARD Advisory Board

Forests/Healthy/Healthy Communities Coalition

The Asbestos Related Health Care Project, Inc.

SJLH Board of Trustees

The Governor's Task Force on Libby's Long Term Care Needs

Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery