W.R. Grace to Pay $250 million for Asbestos Cleanup in Libby, Montana
Grace's Zonolite Mine Operation Spread Asbestos Throughout Libby
LIBBY, MT — March 14, 2008 — W.R. Grace & Co, the vermiculite and chemical corporation responsible for the asbestos contamination of Libby, Montana, agreed to pay $250 million dollars to the federal government to cover environmental cleanup costs. The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency said the record bankruptcy settlement is the highest in the history of the federal Superfund program, and will aid in the removal of asbestos–contaminated ore mined by W.R. Grace in Libby.
The $250 million dollar settlement puts to rest a claim filed by the government under the Superfund law to recoup costs of removing asbestos contaminated materials from Libby’s community. The deal will cover the expense of past and future asbestos removal in many of the town’s buildings, schools and structures contaminated with asbestos dust. So far, Paul Peronard, the EPA emergency coordinator, estimates cleanup costs have reached almost $168 million since May 2000.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D–Mont., issued the following statement about the settlement:
“More money for Libby is always a good step. But, as always, the devil is in the details. W.R. Grace knowingly poisoned the people of Libby and devastated an entire town. $250 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the destruction and pain our neighbors in Libby have been through. EPA has spent approximately $120 million on Libby already and they still can’t tell us how clean is clean. I’ve been fighting for folks in Libby for a long time and I want to make sure they get the health care they need and their town is cleaned up once and for all.” (Missoulian, March 13, 2008)
Currently, seven of WR Grace’s top executives face criminal charges for “knowingly” releasing asbestos fibers into the air of Libby, Montana. WR Grace mined vermiculite ore contaminated with asbestos, to the detriment of its workers, and concealed information on the dangers of being exposed to the asbestos–contaminated vermiculite ore. Tragically, hundreds of miners and residents of Libby died, and over a thousand became sick from asbestos–related diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and deadly mesothelioma. W.R. Grace could not handle the flood of lawsuits that followed and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001.
Asbestos Exposure and Your Legal Rights
For over 24 years, the mesothelioma attorneys at Brayton Purcell have been protecting the legal rights of asbestos victims, including injured workers and their families. Senator Baucus was right in saying that this settlement is only a “drop in the bucket” compared to the damage for which Grace is responsible. We have represented victims of the Libby tragedy, and it is difficult to find a more egregious example of corporate irresponsibility. Many of our clients suffer from asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos–related diseases. Located in California, with offices in Oregon and Utah, our experienced asbestos attorneys are there for you, providing support and understanding as well as legal advocacy nationwide.