Gianforte, Daines announce $1.67M in asbestos cleanup grants for Libby

Cleanup continues in Libby and at the former W.R. Grace Mine. (File photo)

Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte and Sen. Steve Daines on Wednesday announced that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has been awarded a $1,672,106 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for additional asbestos cleanup work at Libby’s Superfund site.

“The work continues to provide the people of Libby with a clean, healthy place to live, work, and raise a family,” Gianforte said in a news release. “This grant from the EPA will help the community in this ongoing effort.”

“The community of Libby deserves a clean environment and this grant will help achieve that,” Daines said in a written statement. “I applaud EPA for prioritizing the health of the people of Libby.”

The grant provides $1,672,106 in additional funding through the EPA Cooperative Agreement for the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site, bringing the total award to $9,706,508.

The grant promotes cooperation between EPA and the state as cleanup and restorative efforts continue in Libby.

A wide swath of Libby was polluted during decades of vermiculite mining and asbestos extraction by W.R. Grace Inc., which left deadly asbestos fibers and dust throughout the town.

A number of Libby residents have died in recent years after contracting incurable asbestosis. Some never worked at the mine, but were poisoned when their parents and spouses unknowingly brought home the dust on their clothes, or when the community built various facilities on top of mine wastes.

The push for Libby’s cleanup initially came from former Sen. Max Baucus, who demanded action by state and federal environmental agencies after many years of inaction, despite pleas from local residents.