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Libby Community Advisory Group
Meeting Summary

October 10, 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:

Public Comment

The CAG agreed to hear a presentation from Richard Flesher before the agency reports.

Richard Flesher

Richard Flesher, a former W.R. Grace and Champion employee and small businessman, stated that he was diagnosed with asbestosis in 1999. He has had colon and heart surgeries. As a result of his medical conditions, he can no longer work and lives off of disability payments. He cannot afford medical insurance. His medical bills now total $70 thousand. He is selling his assets and is facing bankruptcy. Mr. Flesher asked that given the grants that are being received such as the $2.75 million from W.R. Grace, the $250 thousand from W.R. Grace to St. John's Hospital, why is no money available to help people like himself pay their medical bills. He said that other Libby residents face similar circumstances, and asked if bankruptcy is their only recourse. He pointed out the financial harm that will result to St. John's Hospital and other doctors in Libby, Kalispell and Spokane if medical bills force people into bankruptcy. He stated that it is not right that Libby receives funding for a new cultural center, when there is no money for health care. He closed by stating that something must be done to help pay medical bills and it must be done fast.

CAG Member Question - What is the status of the $2.75 million grant?
Answer by LeRoy Thom and Gary Spencer on behalf of the Asbestos Related Health Care Project (ARHCP) - As a result of the legal settlement between W.R. Grace and EPA to the mine access lawsuit, W.R. Grace must pay $2.75 million for asbestos-related health care not covered by its medical plan. W.R. Grace sent to EPA for its review a contract covering expenditures of these funds. EPA took about six months to review it and sent it back to W.R. Grace with suggested changes regarding two issues. EPA and W.R. Grace met and resolved the issues, and last week W.R. Grace sent a contract to ARHCP, the community organization established to oversee expenditure of these funds. The ARHCP board met last Tuesday and presented seven issues to W.R. Grace. Once these issues are addressed, ARHCP will submit the contract to its attorney for review. Once ARHCP signs the contract, it will develop a medical plan to guide actual expenditures. Six months probably will be required before the medical plan is approved and money can be spent.

CAG Member Comment - Someone needs to be pushing this process to ensure that the money is available as soon as possible.
Response - The ARHCP board is pushing. We are moving as fast as we can. We are working hard to see that these funds are used to provide the most good for the most people who need it within the settlement parameters.

CAG Member Question - Who controls the purse strings?
Answer - The federal judge approved the settlement between W.R. Grace and EPA.

Comment by Wendy Thomi - EPA will issue a fact sheet that will explain the process surrounding this funding and its status.

CAG Member Comment - Inspite of all of the millions of dollars that have come into this community, we are still dependent on the W.R. Grace health plan. People cannot afford the drugs they need.

Clinton Maynard Letter

Clinton Maynard read aloud his letter which is attached below as Appendix 2. He also read the following excerpt from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (Superfund):
(i) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; establishment, functions, etc.
(1) There is hereby established within the Public Health Service an agency, to be known as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry...The Administrator of said Agency shall, with the cooperation of...local health officials, effectuate and implement the health related authorities of this chapter. In addition, said Administrator shall-
(D) in cases of public health emergencies caused or believed to be caused by exposure to toxic substances, provide medical care and testing to exposed individuals, including but not limited to... any other assistance appropriate under the circumstances; and
(E) ...In cases of public health emergencies, exposed persons shall be eligible for admission to hospitals and other facilities and services operated or provided by the Public Health Service.

Mr. Maynard emphasized that if a public health emergency is declared in Libby, ATSDR would have the legal authority and responsibility to provide the health care that Libby needs.

CAG Member Question - How do we get the public health emergency declaration, what is the definition of emergency, and who makes the declaration?
Answer by Dan Strausbaugh - We discussed this months ago. The conditions that existed in 1980 when the Superfund law passed do not exist today. The last public health hospital closed in 1985. ATSDR does not have the funding necessary to meet Libby's health care needs. Declaring a public health emergency would not serve the public interest because ATSDR does not have the resources to meet the health care needs.

CAG Member Comment - The Congress held an informational hearing on formulating a white lung program. Senator Baucus was the first presenter. As initially formulated, Libby would not qualify for medical funding under this program. Because the CAG is meeting monthly, this hearing occurred between CAG meetings, so we did not have a chance to participate in it.

EPA Report

Wendy Thomi reported on behalf of EPA on the following subjects.

Screening Plant - The cleanup is complete. Restoration activities, including reconstructing a portion of Rainy Creek, are ongoing and should be completed by next spring.

Export Plant - The new building to which the Millwork West planer is being relocated has been cleaned. W.R. Grace will move the planer to the new building and then demolish the old one. EPA will oversee the demolition and conduct air sampling. Two permanent floors are being installed in the commercial buildings on the west side of the new Millwork West site. Equipment formerly at the old site is being cleaned and moved.

Flyway - Contractor problems have delayed completion of the cleanup of this site. Removal of contaminated material from the site may begin in two weeks. The removal area has been enlarged because visible vermiculite has been found on the north side of the property.

County Landfill - The County landfill will be ready to receive waste next week.

Residential and Business Screening and Cleanups - Contaminant screening has been completed at 2,866 properties. Residents declined screening at 208 properties. Soil samples have been taken at 2,529 properties. Residences and businesses whose soil was sampled during Phase I over the last two years will be resampled because of the decision to use new analytical technics.
Cleanup has been completed at a total of seven homes and businesses. Two residences are now being restored. In two weeks, after cleanup is completed at Plummer School, another thirteen homes and commercial properties will be addressed. EPA is focusing initially on those homes with high asbestos levels in soil so that soil removal can be completed before the onset of winter. Another contractor, Environmental Restoration, is mobilizing to Libby.

Rainy Creek Road Paving - EPA is still in negotiations to determine if Rainy Creek Road will be paved this year or next.

Schools - The last work on the middle and high school tracks is being finished. The rubberized surface on the high school track and tennis courts will be installed next spring.

Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad (BNSF) - BNSF is scheduled to begin removal activities along its track from the Export Plant to the Stimson spur line beginning on October 21. EPA will be overseeing this work and conducting air sampling.

Stimson Lumber Mill Sampling - Soil sampling at the mill will be conducted next week. Per its usual practice, EPA plans to report results of the air and dust sampling to Stimson in mid November. Two weeks later, EPA will make the sampling report available to the public at the Information Center.

Legal - Marianne Horinko has approved a special rule adding Libby to the Superfund National Priorities List. Listing should be finalized in the next few weeks. The bankruptcy case should proceed during November in New York. The cost recovery trial should begin in Missoula in January. A court hearing about removing Zonolite attic insulation may begin in June in New York.

Air Sampling Summary - A summary of the ambient air sampling results for the past few years is being compiled by CDM will be available on Friday, October 18 at the EPA Information Center in Libby.

Personnel Change - Dr. Aubry Miller has filled the EPA senior toxicologist position formerly held by Dr. Chris Weis. Dr. Weis is now part of the EPA team involved in the cost recovery litigation.

Libby Visit - Paul Peronard, Jim Christiansen, Duc Nguyen, and personnel from EPA Headquarters and Region 2 will be in Libby next week. Appointments with Mr. Peronard and Mr. Christiansen can be made for next week by calling Linda Newstrom at the EPA Information Center. Mr. Christiansen plans to attend the next CAG meeting on November 14 and will provide detailed updates on the progress and results of this year's screening, soil sampling and analytical methods, and future sampling and cleanup.

Audience Member Question - Is the final restoration plan for the export plant site available?
Answer - We will find out and get back to you. You should talk with Paul Peronard next week.

Audience Member Question - If the City wanted its buildings rebuilt, could EPA order W.R. Grace to do so?
Answer - Yes, but EPA would not do so unless the property owner wanted them rebuilt. The buildings would be rebuilt commensurate with original condition of the buildings.
Answer by Alan Stringer - W.R. Grace and the City negotiated an agreement that in lieu of replacing the buildings, W.R. Grace would install an 8" water line under the railroad tracks to the site.

Audience Member Comment - I am concerned that an appraisal be released of the buildings taken down and compared to the cost of installing the water line, and so that the public would know that it is getting value for value.

Audience Member Question - Can the public find out how much money has been spent on the screening plant site?
Answer - Yes.

Audience Member Question - How will people be notified about cleanup of their residences?
Answer - People will be called about one month prior to the cleanup.

Audience Member Question - What is the purpose of paving Rainy Creek Road?
Response - Some waste will continue to be moved over this road to the mine for disposal. Paving will reduce dust.

Audience Member Comment - Paving will not eliminate the dust.
Answer - EPA is aware that some issues still need to be addressed. The road remains closed to the public.

Audience Member Question - What is the status of the pending timber sale involving Rainy Creek Road?
Response - The sale is pending road paving. A meeting on the sale between the County, USFS, EPA, and W.R. Grace is scheduled for next Wednesday.

Audience Member Comment - The timber sale will result in recontamination of areas that have been cleaned.
Response by Commissioner Rita Windom - The logging is not planned for the Rainy Creek drainage, but rather over the hill in Tug Gulch. These areas need to be tested for asbestos so that a decision can be made about harvesting the timber. We do not want to cause recontamination, but we also do not want to forgo harvest of the timber without a reason.

CAG Member Question - Could Mr. Peronard and Mr. Christiansen hold an information meeting when they are here next week to take questions?
Answer - Yes. We will try to schedule a meeting next Wednesday so that EPA can advertise it in the newspaper and on the radio.

Audience Member Question - Did BNSF notify EPA about the tie restoration?
Answer - Yes, EPA was called and contractors watched the work.

Audience Member Comment - The tie restoration compounded the asbestos contamination problem.

Audience Member Question - Has EPA approved the plan for the cleanup of the BNSF property?
Answer - The work plan is not yet finalized.

Audience Member Question - Will BNSF be able to use the vacuum truck and remove material to a depth of two feet?
Answer - We expect that a vacuum truck will be used, but Duc Nguyen has ordered BNSF to go down at least 4 feet if asbestos is present.

ATSDR Report

Dan Strausbaugh reported on behalf of ATSDR. Copies of the presentations regarding the preliminary findings of the medical testing program, the study of mortality in Libby, and the preliminary CT study are available both at this meeting and at the EPA Information Center. Final results from the medical testing and the CT study should be out next month. The Public Health Availability Session was held on September 27 and 28, and Joe Theisman is preparing written responses to the concerns raised by Libby people. A draft Public Health Assessment report should be available by the end of this year. ATSDR is beginning to trace former W.R. Grace workers and their families to create a tremolite asbestos disease registry. So far 218 workers with 399 household contacts have been identified.

Audience Member Comment - Children that rode the bus to school from the Blackwell Trailer Court when Libby Dam was under construction were riding the same bus that carried miners to the mine. The bus was dusty, and the children were probably exposed to asbestos.
Response by Kirby Maki - The school district has received from EPA an Environmental Justice Grant to fund tracing children who passed through Libby schools while the vermiculite mine was operating. We are beginning with 1992 and working back in time. Our earliest record is 1970. We will cross check our tracing results against the list of people who had the medical screening. We plan to keep former students informed about asbestos related health issues.

CAG Member Comment - The largest influx of children occurred during the 1965 to 1975 period when Libby Dam was under construction. Construction workers and their families lived in trailer parks along the river.
Response by Kirby Maki - In the 1960's enrollment in Libby schools peaked at over 3,000 children. Many had left by the 1980's. We will attempt to trace these children.

State Report

Dr. Michael Spence, Montana Medical Officer, reported on behalf of the State on the following topics.

Funding for Continued Medical Screening - The state has received word by telephone that it has received a five year grant totaling $550 thousand from ATSDR to pay for continued medical screening. In two to three weeks, all paper work should be completed, and the state will begin finding space and personnel to conduct the screening. The plan is to offer screening to people who have not yet been screened and anyone who had a negative result (i.e. no indication of disease) in a previous screening. The eligibility and protocal for the screening will the same as that used by ATSDR in the first two rounds of screening, except that only one B-reader will review the chest x-rays. People who lived, worked, attended school, or recreated in Libby for at least six months prior to December 31, 1990 will be eligible. Results from the continued screening will be linked to the ATSDR tremolite asbestos disease registry and to the school program described by Kirby Maki.

Governor's Task Force - The Task Force met this week at St. John's Hospital. People from Helena and Kalispell participated via video conference. The Task Force will be overseeing the retention of a health economist to conduct an actuarial analysis of the future cost of adequate and appropriate health care for Libby. The state has obtained a $40 thousand grant to pay for this analysis. The Task Force also discussed eligibility for assistance through the state Workers' Compensation Fund for workers exposed to asbestos. There is apparently not a simple answer to the eligibility question.

Chronic Disease Tracking - The state has obtained another grant for $510,566 from the Center for Environmental Health to hire an environmental epidemiologist to track disease linked to environmental causes. This grant is not directly related to the asbestos exposure at Libby.

Flu Season - The flu season has started. Flu can be a deadly disease for people with a compromised lung condition. Such people should take advantage of the availability of flu vaccinations at Libby, Troy, or Eureka.

Dr. Holian's Scientific Advisory Committee - Dr. Spence serves on the scientific advisory committee for Dr. Holian's research at the University of Montana. As Dr. Holian has explained to the CAG, his group is seeking to understand why some people are susceptible to lung diseases and immune system diseases such as lupus while others are not.

CAG Member Question - Why only one B reader? Not all of the three B readers in the ATSDR screening found the same results. Doesn't the use of only one reader increase the possibility that disease may be missed?
Answer - The continued screening will only have one reader because funding is limited and paying for multiple readers would reduce the number of people that can be screened. The plan is to rescreen annually those who previously had negative screening results as well as people who are eligible but who were not previously screened. The annual screening read by only one reader should pick up real disease.

CAG Member Question - Will you use local medical facilities for the continued screening?
Answer - X-rays will be taken at St. John's Hospital, but other facilities will be found for the remainder of the screening procedures.

CAG Member Comment - Isn't it ironic that we can get more money for screening but no money for the health care that the screening will indicate is necessary? We need money to pay for health care now.
Response - The $40 thousand grant will provide an estimate of the needed funding for future medical care. We need to know this amount to seek medical care funding.

Audience Member Comment - Railroad workers who would not meet the six month eligibility criterion were exposed to asbestos from Libby because of train derailments and track work.

CAG Member Question - Did the Attorney General participate in the Governor's Task Force discussion of Workers' Compensation program eligibility?
Answer - Yes. But because of different laws affecting different time periods, a simple answer to the eligibility question is not available. Each case will have to be considered separately.

County Report

Commissioner Windom spoke on behalf of the County. She noted that all three Commissioners were present at this meeting and took exception to any allegation made by some because of the City's dealings with W.R. Grace over the buildings at the Screening Plant site that politicians are not people of integrity. She also announced that the County has received two grants, one for a satellite receiver that will be installed on the City Hall building and one for in-home care for people who need help with basic activities such as housekeeping, providing wood for heat, making beds, and washing dishes. The latter grant does not provide medical care, but supports other services that will help keep people in their homes. The satellite will allow teleconferencing and may be of direct help to the CAG. The County has not identified any available grants for medical care, but is in regular contact with Montana's Congressional delegation advocating for such grants. Commissioner Windom stated that in addition to Dr. Spence, she and Rick Palagi and Kerry Beasley also serve on the Governor's Task Force. While Worker's Compensation is very important, the medical trust is still needed to provide funding for medical care. Finally, she stated that while waiting is hard, the ARHCP board is working hard on behalf of the people of Libby.

CARD Clinic Report

Laura Sedler and Alvin Benitz reported on behalf of the CARD Clinic.

Ms. Sedler reported that Helen Clark is leaving the Clinic and that advertising will be issued for a community outreach coordinator to work at the Clinic for a year. She also stated that she would prepare a fact sheet about the CARD Outreach for Recovery Assistance Program for the next CAG meeting.

Mr. Benitz stated that he was one of the six members of the CARD board which is overseeing its transition from administration by the Hospital to an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Other CAG members on the board include Gayla Benefield, LeRoy Thom, and Kerry Beasley. The board will be advertising for nine volunteers to serve on the new CARD Board of Directors. The existing CARD board would like the CAG's written support for the Clinic's continued existence. At the next CAG meeting, Mr. Benitz will offer a letter of support for continuation of the Clinic for the CAG's consideration.

Audience Member Question - Who is in charge of the CARD Clinic now?
Response - Alvin Benitz is acting as the board chair.

CAG Member Comment - We are hoping that the CARD Clinic will be a participant in the continuing medical screening.
Answer by Dr. Spence - I have had discussions with Dr. Black.

CAG Member Comment - Flu and pneumonia are available at the CARD Clinic.

Public Comment

There was no additional public comment.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 14, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room of Libby City Hall.

Appendix 1

CAG Member & Guest Attendance List
October 10, 2002


Group/Organization Represented

K.W. Maki

Libby Schools

Mick Mills


Gayla Benefield


Leroy Thom

Former W.R. Grace employee

Dan Strausbaugh


Gary Spencer


Rev. Robert Foote

Libby Ministerial Association

George Bauer

City of Libby

Ken Hays

Senior Citizens

Dr. Brad Black

Lincoln County Health Officer/CARD

George Keck

Technical Advisory Group

Sandy Wagner

Community Health Center

Clinton Maynard

Area Asbestos Research Group

Rep. Eileen Carney

State Representative

Wendy Thomi

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator


Dr. Michael Spence

State Medical Officer

Appendix 2

To All:
In February of the year 2000 there was a U.S. Senate hearing held in Libby, Montana. At this senate hearing the many dignitaries expressed to us that they acknowledged our situation and left us with the impression that "not to worry," the government will deal with this disaster appropriately.

On May 31, 2000 at a town meeting with Senator Max Baucus I read a letter I had written to him. In this letter was a list of seven needs of this community as a result of this exposure to toxic mineral fiber. Number one on the list read: The people of this population need medical coverage. Full medical coverage. Coverage that is good where we choose to seek medical care. This medical coverage needs to be provided by the federal government and if the people of America wish for the funding to be reimbursed from W.R. Grace, then so be it.

On July 16th, I sent a letter to then EPA Acting Administrator for Region 08, Rebecca Hanmer. A paragraph in this letter reads: The greatest need, second to cancer research, that the people of this exposed population have today, is to know how we are going to have the medical cost, associated with this insult, met. We live with this great uncertainty and it is a huge burden. At every CAG meeting, we hear of lack of funding for even the smallest things, such as monies to get former employees back here for the medical screening. Our governments failed us and it is only right that the governments end the uncertainty that we endure, with commitment. It seems that this must be taken up with the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and we ask that you would proceed.

At the next CAG meeting, July 27th, 2000, we were honored by the presence of Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Hugh Sloan of the Public Health Service, Region 08. At this CAG meeting, Dr. Sloan expressed commitment to this community that he would go back and look into any existing programs that might address the health care issues that we face.

In mid-September, Dr. Sloan returned to Libby at the Asbestos Conference held here. He brought with him a panel of people from every government entitlement and welfare program there is. We were told that if a person didn t fit into one program they might fit into another. What Dr. Sloan heard from this community was that to piecemeal this together is unacceptable. We were left with the impression that Dr. Sloan fulfilled his commitment-that he had looked into existing programs and this was all that he could come up with. We were left with the impression that there was no program in place to address the long-term health care issues that we face.

I don t mean to make it sound like I am the only one who has been fighting this issue; this is a fight that all in this community face and we have all fought to find a solution.

I share my personal involvement and this chain of events because in what I am about to present to you, may put a tone in my voice that sounds like I am at least annoyed.

In addition, this chain of events demonstrates how long this issue of the long term medical needs have been on the table.

Recently I sent a letter to EPA Assistant Administrator Marianne Horinko requesting that a declaration of a public health emergency be pursued on our behalf.

I made this request because EPA months ago told us that it was thought that the only way that EPA could deal with the attic insulation in the homes of Libby, as they did not have the authority to clean homes, was to declare a public health emergency. At that time I had asked the question of Paul Peronard, would this declaration of public health emergency open doors for our medical and research needs? His answer was yes, and that ATSDR would be here for the long haul.
Not long ago EPA announced to the community that they would deal with the home insulation but they had figured out how to do this without declaring the public health emergency. At this meeting I expressed concern that we were counting on the public health emergency to open doors for the long term medical and research needs.

Most recently, there was a letter sent off to Senator Baucus showing community support for him to pursue the creation of a "white lung program." While we should show support for the development of this national program, this letter was sent off to Senator Baucus with the people in this community holding the belief that no legislation is in place that would address the long term medical needs of our exposed people.

I have now discovered that this is not the case at all. There is legislation in place that requires the federal government to address our long term medical needs as an exposed population. It is the law, but first, before it can be put into affect, there must be a public health emergency declared for Libby. This law is contained in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980-commonly known as Superfund Legislation. I will now read from this legislation-Section 9604 (i). The law reads as follows:

(See attached 4 pages).

The people of Libby had no choice in being exposed to this toxic mineral fiber, our governments failed us-this was preventable and people deserve the full benefit of the law. We continue to endure the torment of uncertainty.

Thank you,
Clinton Maynard

Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery