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Asbestos Town Goes To Court

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 03, 2009 11:10 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Asbestos, Vermiculite, EPA, Lung Disease, Environmental Pollution, Dangerous Products, Mesothelioma

After more than a decade, the town of Libby Montana will finally have its day in court over asbestos contamination.



IMAGE SOURCE: W.R. Grace mine, Libby,Montana/ CNN Web site 


The town of Libby, Montana is finally having its day in court.

Decades after the dangers of asbestos were known, federal prosecutors have begun a trial of the mining company W.R. Grace that produced vermiculite used in products from insulation to fertilizer.  Vermiculite, which dusted the town for decades, is responsible for the deaths of more than 200 with more than 1,000 made ill. 

Those who lost loved ones were among the first witnesses at trial in Missoula, Montana reports CNN.

Federal prosecutors charge that tremolite asbestos, linked to the lung disease mesothelioma, lined the lungs causing cancer. The toxic form of asbestos can also attack the lining of the heart.

Lung problems can show up years after exposure.

CNN visited in 2000 with Dan and Della Schnetter. Dan, who worked in the mine, became serious ill at the age of 38. His lungs filled with fluid and he was diagnosed with asbestosis caused by asbestos particles

 "I wouldn't have raised my children here. I would not have. I wouldn't have took them up on the hill to breathe the same stuff I was breathing," he said to CNN had he known of the dangers.

The indictment says W. R. Grace knew of the dangers but conspired to hide that knowledge from employees of the mine and town residents leaving them “in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.”

The indictment also says that 63 percent of those who worked for a decade or more in Libby had lung abnormalities. The 10-count indictment also charges wire fraud and obstruction of justice. The company could be on the hook for up to $280 million, which represents twice the profits the mine generated.

The company says it knew asbestos came from its mine but denies any conspiracy, instead insisting it took steps to help those sickened obtain medical care.  Five executives named are facing prison time.

The Environmental Protection Agency began its investigation a decade ago, and the statute of limitations now means prosecutors must prove that the company demonstrated criminal conduct after 1999.  The trial is expected to take months.  

The W.R. Grace mine operation was closed in 1990.  It opened back in 1881 when gold miners discovered vermiculite in Libby. W.R. Grace bought the mining operations in 1963. # 

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Mike Crill
Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:20 PM EST

In 1999,we all were told the truth as to why we are sick and dying.From not being told at all.Since 1999, this deadly exposure to new generations of victims has continued by selling Libby Mt as a safe place to live and raise a family.This is a deadly lie.Why has this been allowed to continue??? Who is guilty for those being diagnosed today who have moved to Libby since 1999.All you liers killed that man and I hope you all stand trial for knowingly poisoning that man and all the rest you people invited into Libby.You all know who you are.Libby is deadly still today and you all know it.Does any of this bother you people???

Comments for this article are closed.

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