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Libby Community Advisory Group
Meeting Summary

March 11, 2004

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


The CAG agreed to the following agenda for this meeting:

February 12 Meeting Summary Correction

Gerald Mueller stated that he neglected to include in the summary of the February 12 CAG meeting that the CAG signed the letter drafted by Clinton Maynard to Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath. A copy of the letter dated February 12, 2004 is attached below in Appendix 2.

EPA Report

Jim Christiansen and Wendy Thomi reported on behalf of EPA on the following topics.

Residential Cleanups - Jim Christiansen stated that 18 properties have been cleaned this year bringing the total to 201. The 18 is a little ahead of schedule which is an indication that the wage problem discussed at the last CAG meeting has not slowed the pace of the cleanups. Cleanup activity will ramp up in the spring but will not reach the rate experienced last summer because of this year's budget level. 

CAG Member Question - How many people are currently working?
Answer - I don't have the exact number, but I believe between 25 and 30 people are currently working.

CAG Member Question - When will the new cleanup contract or contracts be awarded?
Answer - The new contracts may be awarded in May. The award process includes several steps. First, contract bids are reviewed for technical content, and then a cost comparison of the proposals is made. Next, discussions are held with the bidders concerning their proposals. The contract award will be made by the Volpe Center of the US Department of Transportation. The award is out of my hands. We have sufficient capacity in the existing SaLUT/MARCOR contract to ensure that the approval process will not delay the cleanup work.

TAG Meeting - Wendy Thomi stated that EPA will convene an open house on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room of City Hall focused on Technical Advisory Group (TAG) grants. EPA personnel working with the TAG program and representatives of TAGs addressing other Superfund sites will participate in the meeting. The meeting purpose is to provide general information about the TAG program and later to work with existing members of the Libby TAG Board of Directors as well as people considering becoming Board members.

TAG Report

George Keck and Gordon Sullivan reported on behalf of the Libby TAG. Mr. Keck stated that openings exist on the TAG Board and encouraged anyone interested to consider joining the Board. Gordon Sullivan, the TAG Technical Advisor, stated that he continues to read the EPA cleanup work plan and reports his findings to the TAG. He welcomed people to attend the TAG meetings so that they can learn about and discuss the cleanup plan. The TAG is planning to publish a series of articles in Libby's two local newspapers to keep people abreast of TAG activities. Cost estimates to publish the articles are currently being collected. Mr. Sullivan also stated that he convenes a meeting on Tuesday nights at the college from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. to discuss the risk assessment. The risk assessment meeting is not held on the Tuesday prior to the CAG meeting when the full TAG Board meets. The risk assessment will determine the level of cleanup EPA conducts which will affect the fate of the community including the long-range operation and maintenance program. The public is welcomed to attend the risk assessment meetings as well as the monthly TAG Board meeting.

Audience Member Comment - The full TAG Board meets on the Tuesday prior to the CAG meeting downstairs in the County Annex.

State Report

Craig French reported on behalf of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The state has signed a cooperative agreement with EPA regarding a containment screening study in Troy. The state currently has authority to sell up to $4.5 million of bonds to fund its share of operation and maintenance costs. Some of this money may be used in the Troy cleanup. The state is required to provide a 10% match of EPA's remedial mode expenditures. That point has not yet been reached, and the state is not sure when it will be.

CAG Member Comment - I have collected 20 letters from Troy residents regarding cleanup budget for Administrator Leavitt.

CAG Member Comment -Do we understand how extensive a cleanup is needed in Troy?
Answer by Jim Christiansen - We don't know yet. The purpose of the contaminant screening study is to find out. 

CAG Member Comment - Does Troy fit within the jurisdiction of the TAG?
Answer by Jim Christiansen - Yes, Troy is part of the Libby Superfund site. 

CARD Clinic Report

Mike Giesey, President of the CARD Clinic Board of Directors, reported on its behalf on two topics. 

EPA Letters - The CARD Clinic Board of Directors has written to the EPA Administrator suggesting activities during his visit and to Assistant Administrator Marian Horinko reviewing the commitments EPA has made to Libby. Ms. Horinko has visited Libby and we consider to be an ally. We have not yet had a response to either letter. 

Comment by Jim Christiansen - The letters have been received and responses are being prepared. The Senate Public Works Committee is also considering EPA's 2005 budget including the amount for Libby. 

Research Grants

Mr. Giesey stated that he and Bob and Vickie Munson recently met with University of Montana's (UM's) Dr. Holian concerning a Superfund basic research grant for $5 million that he is planning to submit to EPA. Dr. Holian has decided to postpone submitting the grant until this coming December. The CARD representatives discussed with Dr. Holian the services that the CARD Clinic might provide under the grant. According to Dr. Holian, competition for Superfund research grants is very intense. Thirty different organizations have or intend to apply. Fifteen organizations are funded currently, so only a few slots for new grantees are open. As a result of the two conferences convened in Libby by the CARD Clinic on asbestos related disease, a group of doctors have formed the Committee for Asbestos Related Research. This committee has volunteered to review asbestos related research proposals on the CARD's behalf. The Clinic is currently included in two proposals. One by an Australian researcher proposes to study tremolite, and another is by a researcher at university in the U.S. The CARD Clinic has not heard from EPA regarding its Environmental Justice grant proposal.

CAG Member Comment - I propose that the CAG invite Dr. Holian to meet with us at a future CAG meeting to discuss the research grant he is drafting. I would like to learn more about the grant proposal..

Response by Mike Giesey - The CARD Clinic Board is discussing with Dr. Holian a memorandum of understanding between the Clinic and UM. It is reasonable to ask Dr. Holian to come here and talk with us about the proposed research and what would flow to Libby.

CAG Action - The CAG requested that Mr. Giesey convey an invitation to Dr. Holian to discuss his pending grant request at a future CAG meeting. Mr. Giesey agreed to do so.

Comment by Pat Cohan - The CARD Clinic is looking towards research as a pathway for taking care of people. Dr. Holian's group is conducting basic research into molecular level responses to asbestos fibers. It behooves them to have the CARD Clinic collect data from people here. We want to make sure that the benefits of research are not extracted from here and used elsewhere. To win our support, research must provide benefit here.

Gayla Benefield Report

Gayla Benefield reported on two topics: the Asbestos-Related Disease (ARD) Health Conference and the community letter writing and resolution campaign.

ARD Health Conference - The conference which was focused on living successfully with asbestos-related disease was convened by ARD Net and was very successful. It was attended by several agencies and vendors and Libby residents. Ms. Benefield observed many people interacting. A similar conference is tentatively scheduled for October.

Community Letter Writing and Resolution Campaign - The campaign is going well. Letters are being written and dropped off at Timberline Ford. Businesses and organizations are also signing the community resolution. Pre-written letters to Administrator Leavitt that people can sign are available at the CARD Clinic.

CAG Member Comment - Packages of five different letters are available that you could provide to your friends to sign and deliver to Timberline Ford.

CAG MemberQuestion - St. John's Hospital has 187 employees. Have they been solicited to write letters?
Answer by Rick Palagi - Yes. 

CAG MemberQuestion - What about the schools?
Response by Kirby Maki - Follow up letters have been sent this week to children and staff. 

Public Comment

Comment by Lee Clark - A representative of the Operating Engineers Union will conduct an 8- hour class about asbestos at the Elks on March 16 and 17. 

Audience Member Question - Will the class provide attendees a certificate?
Answer by Mr. Clark - Yes. 

CAG Member Question - Is the class open to homeowners?
Answer by Mr. Clark - Yes. 

Comment by Les Skramstad - A documentary about Libby by a Missoula film maker ran last week on Wednesday in Libby and on Thursday in Missoula. One County Commissioner added the screening here. Some 700 - 800 people paid $8 each to see the film in Missoula. This film is helping to provide public awareness of what is going on here. 

CAG Member Comment - Kyle Ames, a student at the alternative school, is presently filming a documentary about Libby. I have encouraged him to focus on how much we have accomplished and where we are going. 

Audience Member Comment - Mr. Ames got his film equipment from a UM program entitled, Ethics, A Bridge for Community and Science. The program is seeking to put students behind the camera to explore their point of view. A number of documentary filmmakers have volunteered to talk with the class in which Mr. Ames is a member. The goal is to finish the film by late June or early July and to screen it in both Libby and Missoula. 

Next Meeting

The next regular CAG meeting is scheduled for 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, 2004 in the Ponderosa Room of Libby City Hall.

Appendix 1

CAG Member & Guest Attendance List
March 11, 2004


Group/Organization Represented

Gayla Benefield


George Keck

Technical Advisory Group

Rick Palagi

St. John's Lutheran Hospital

Jim Christiansen

EPA Project Manager

Gary D. Swenson


David F. Latham

The Montanian Newspaper

Clinton Maynard

Area Asbestos Research Group

Wendy Thomi


Gordon Sullivan


Craig French

Montana Department of Environmental Quality

K.W. Maki

Libby School District

Bob Dedrick

Asbestos Victim

Eileen Carney

State Representative

Norita Skramstad

Asbestos Victim

Appendix 2

February 12, 2004

Mr. Mike McGrath
Attorney General
State of Montana
Helena, MT 59601

Dear Mr. McGrath:

We, the Libby Community Advisory Group, have been pursuing the law within Superfund legislation (CERCLA) 9604 (i) (1) (D) as an avenue that might address the long- term health care issue resulting from our toxic exposure. It is our layman's interpretation of this law that the federal government created this law and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to address the event that toxic exposure to a population had occurred. Our recent petition to Secretary Tommy Thompson dated, May 8, 2003, requesting a Declaration of Public Health Emergency be made for Libby, was denied by the Administrator of CDC-ATSDR, Dr. Louise Gerberding. As you will see from the enclosed correspondences, our interpretation is vastly different from Ms. Gerberding's. The question is: in your opinion, does this law provide for health care for those subjected to long latency disease?

The long-term medical needs of this exposed population are beyond the means of all but the wealthy and the Grace medical plan is inadequate and unsecure. It seems that those exposed will completely shoulder the effects of this toxic trespass.

Enclosed you will find copies of the letters of correspondence relating to this issue.

We greatly appreciate and need whatever help that you might extend our way.

Please reply to the Libby Community Advisory Group, C/O Gerald Mueller, 440 Evans Ave., Missoula, MT 59801.

Sincerely and with many thanks,
Libby Community Advisory Group
Signature page attached:

Libby Area Community Advisory Group

  • Kerry Beasley St. John's Lutheran Hospital
  • Gayla Benefield LCAVRO
  • Dr. Brad Black Lincoln County Health Officer CARD
  • Eileen Carney State Rep., Dist. 82
  • Bob Dedrick Asbestos Victim
  • Ken Hays Lincoln County Council on Aging
  • George Keck, Lincoln Cty. Community Health Center
  • David LathamThe Montanian Newspaper
  • K.W. Maki Libby School District #4
  • Clinton Maynard Area Asbestos Research Group
  • Rick Palagi St. John's Lutheran Hospital
  • Norita Skramstad Asbestos Victim
  • Gary D. Swenson Libby Volunteer Fire Dept.
  • Gordon Sullivan Citizen
  • Leroy Thom Former W.R. Grace employee
  • Sandy Wagner LCCH

Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery