Gerald Mueller and members of the Libby Community Advisory Group (CAG) introduced themselves. A list of the members in attendance is attached below as Appendix 1.
The CAG agreed to the following agenda for this meeting:
Jim Christiansen and Wendy Thomi reported on behalf of EPA on the following topics.
Contractor and Tradesman Workshops - EPA recently held three two-hour workshops with the contractors and tradesmen to explain to them the Superfund process and clarify state and federal asbestos regulations. Forty-five people attended these meetings. The meetings highlighted the need for additional training regarding certification and liability issues. Mr. Christiansen stated that he is committed to seeking funding for training so that contractors and tradesmen would not have to pay to attend. Similar meetings will be held with other groups as a part of EPA's outreach effort.
New Hires - EPA has hired Mike Cirian to serve as a new field project manager for a five year period in Libby. Mr. Cirian will relocate to Libby and will be here everyday. CDM has hired a local Libby person to provide full-time oversight of restoration efforts. Cleanup activities involve three steps, project design, actual cleanup, and then restoration of the properties. CDM's new person will ensure that a better job is done in the post-cleanup restoration activities.
Stimson Central Maintenance Building - The vermiculite has been removed from one of the four main walls. Work is now underway to remove and replace the building roof, after which cleanup will continue on the outer walls. This building contains large bays, and each will be cleaned one at a time by removing or encapsulating the asbestos contamination and then conducting clearance sampling. The entire cleanup of this building should be completed this summer.
Troy - As Catherine LeCours has reported at past meetings, investigation and background work is underway this summer. Cleanup of the Troy High School will occur in July. Vermiculite insulation will be removed. All dust samples at the schools to date have not detected asbestos. The cleanup will take about two weeks and will be coordinated with the school principal.
Highway 37 - Samples taken a year ago on the shoulders of Highway 37 from the Kootenai Bridge to the site of the former W.R. Grace Screening Plant have been analyzed. The results indicate a consistent, low level of asbestos. All concentrations were less than 1% asbestos by weight. Paul Peronard previously sampled Highway 37 for asbestos using personal monitors worn by bicycle riders, walkers, and truck drivers. The results indicated either non-detect or low levels of asbestos, so there is little concern with use of the road. Soil samples at houses along the Highway also did not find significant asbestos concentrations. Twelve air samplers that have been placed along the Highway produced similar results, low levels of asbestos concentrations. Although the sampling levels in the shoulders are lower than the cleanup trigger, the consistent asbestos concentrations make it a larger concern than if there were only a few detects, so some type of cleanup action will likely occur. EPA has contacted both Lincoln County and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) informing them of this situation. MDT is concerned that any cleanup not affect the stability of the road, which has steep banks along some of the contaminated areas.
Building Demolition - One building in the downtown area which is collapsing is being demolished. The activity is being extensively monitored. Workers are wearing personal monitors. EPA intends to demonstrate at this site that buildings can be demolished safely.
Wood Stove Fair - Lincoln County has been designated a non-attainment area for small particulate matter. A voluntary stove change-out program is underway. As a part of this program, EPA will convene a wood stove fair on Saturday, June 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Memorial Center. Information about the program will be provided. On Thursday, June 16 a media event will be held in Libby to focus attention on the fair and change-out program. Montana's Governor and the EPA Regional Administrator may attend this event.
Audience Member Question - Who did CDM hire to provide the restoration oversight?
Answer - Elzohn Anderson.
Audience Member Question - What was the source of the Highway 37 contamination?
Answer - We are not sure. Contaminated road sand or shoulder buildup or spillage from W.R. Grace haul trucks are possible sources. We asked W.R. Grace about the sanding material, but they said they have no knowledge of using contaminated material. The fact that the contamination appears to be limited to the shoulder areas indicates that it may have been placed rather than blown there. We may decide to sample beyond the screening plant location.
Audience Member Question - How deep and at what intervals did you sample?
Answer - We sampled from 0 to 6" deep and sampled about every 1/4 mile. Over 30 samples contained trace amounts of asbestos. Vermiculite was visible on the shoulders
Audience Member Comment - Please provide information about this situation at the EPA Information Center.
Response - A draft report on the sampling is being edited and will be available at the EPA Information Center.
CAG Member Comment - There is evidence from legal proceedings that W.R. Grace did use vermiculite in the sanding mix. Also, uncovered trucks hauling vermiculite drove Highway 37 everyday during the 1980's. I know that vermiculite was deposited in the ditches along the road.
Response - The road right-of-way is controlled by the state. Cleanup will require coordination with the state.
CAG Member Comment - The barrow pit is used for walking, and kids driver four-wheelers there.
Response - We are aware of the use. We notified the newspaper immediately upon learning of the contamination. We may not be able to control access to the contaminated areas, but we intend a significant education effort. We may, for example, put up signs. The contamination is a big concern.
Audience Member Question - Is Highway 2 contaminated?
Answer - We have collected samples in Libby of alleys and along Highway 2 and have not found contamination.
Audience Member Comment - At the boat launch area no sprinkler system has been installed. As a result, the grass has died and the site is covered with weeds. Please come to the City Council so that these issues can be discussed.
Response - EPA agreement with the City provided that we would make preparations for, but not install the sprinkler system.
Audience Member Question - Who owns the flyway property?
Answer - The Kootenai Development Corporation.
Gayla Benefield reported on behalf of the TAG. The TAG met last night. CDM's Shawn Oliveira discussed the testing methods with us. EPA has been responsive to our concerns. We appreciate that EPA is sampling children's breathing zones. We do have two outstanding issues, removal of carpets and cleaning of crawl spaces. Each crawl space should be considered separately. The TAG has two new members from Troy, Helen Clark and Tony Brown.
Comment by Jim Christiansen - These two issues are concerns for us as well. We will be sampling dust beneath carpets to determine if they should be removed. We agree that each crawl space is unique both in terms of the amount of contamination and access. Each will be considered separately. We are trying to do a good job. As to the sampling, we must tailor the amounts and types of sampling to the particular problem because of sampling costs. Sampling could consume the entire cleanup budget. For example, the sampling currently underway to fill data gaps for the upcoming Record of Decision is costing $400,000.
Response - We in Libby are not concerned about the cost. We need the cleanup to be done correctly. Five hundred thousand dollars is the cost of one person dying from asbestos-related disease.
Audience Member Question - Does the TAG have a technical advisor?
Answer - No. Gordon Sullivan resigned. We have a committee seeking a replacement.
CARD Clinic Report
Mike Giesey reported on behalf of the CARD Clinic. CARD is struggling with HNA, the administrator of the W.R. Grace health plan, to receive payment for services we have rendered. We have filed a complaint with the New Jersey Board of Medical Advisors. Some patients who have been denied payment by HNA have received satisfaction when they called HNA. The CARD Clinic is collecting personal histories to document HNA's payment history. Jenny Bland has joined our board of directors bringing the number to ten. On August 12, we will have an open house from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Audience Member Comment - When kids with asbestos-related disease (ARD) have problems with colds, doctors are not recognizing and understanding the ARD.
Response - There is a problem with doctors who are not familiar with ARD not recognizing the disease on x-rays.
Audience Member Comment - We have a son in Havre and a daughter in Great Falls. Doctors there will not prescribe proper medications for ARD. They are told that they have to see doctors in Libby.
Gayla Benefield reported that through ARD-Net people on oxygen have gotten together to discuss their needs and problems. For example, they have compared the equipment they use and tips for traveling with it. ARD-Net is discussing convening a symposium to deal with oxygen- related issues.
Audience Member Question - Would you please update us on the federal asbestos legislation?
Answer - The legislation is before the Senate, but no schedule has been set for considering it. Senator Baucus had successfully included in the bill provisions favorable to Libby, however, a key provision, the air diffusion capacity test, has been removed. This test is critical to assuring that people contracting disease from Libby tremolite qualify for the $400,000 payment under the bill. Without this provision only 10% of people in Libby would be qualified. We struggle to convince the Congress that tremolite is different from commercially available asbestos. For us to qualify under the current bill draft, we would have to be in the end stage of ARD. Alan Whitehouse has held a news conference and written a letter explaining the situation with tremolite.
Audience Member Question - Would calls to Congress help?
Answer - Yes. We need to emphasize the need for the air diffusion capacity test.
Audience Member Comment - We need an active effort by EPA to inform people of Libby about the Record of Decision (ROD) process, how they can be involved, and what is coming. The ROD is the final action. Cleanup will proceed through the ROD.
Response by Jim Christiansen - We agree. We are trying to use the media and public meetings to provide information about the ROD and how they can be involved. We would appreciate any ideas as to how we can carry out this task. The ROD is not necessarily the final word on cleanup. Two means exist for making changes to it. Minor changes can be made through an Explanation of Significant Difference (ESD). Major changes can be made through a ROD amendment.
CAG Member Comment - The science continues to change and will do so after the ROD is issued. We will continue to press for more information and changes especially on how asbestos exposure causes disease.
The next CAG meeting was scheduled for 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 14, 2005 in the Ponderosa Room of Libby City Hall.
CAG Member & Guest Attendance List
June 9, 2005
Members Group/Organization Represented
Mike Giesey CARD
K.W. Maki Libby Schools
Kerry Beasley St. John's Lutheran Hospital
Ken Hays Senior Citizens
David Latham The Montanian Newspaper
Wendy Thomi EPA
Jim Christiansen EPA
Gayla Benefield Lincoln County Asbestos Victims Relief Organization (LCAVRO)
Norita Skramstad Asbestos Victim
Gary D. Swenson Libby Volunteer Fire Department
Eileen Carney TAG and ARD Net
Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery