I had in-law family friends in Libby Montana, home of that vermiculite mine. Only residents for a few years, we visited while they lived there in the 1970's. It is a very pretty part of the world and I still live about 150 miles from Libby. My brother's home is less than half that distance.
I worked in a commercial greenhouse. Nearly half my day during winter was tending the wood pellet, and earlier, coal furnace that heated the one acre under glass. There was a natural gas furnace, as well. Both furnaces were covered with asbestos and all the pipes that were not out in the greenhouses were covered with asbestos. When it weakened and fell off, we would mix an asbestos paste and patch the insulation.
The potting soil that we used in the spring was made with vermiculite from that Libby mine. That vermiculite was sold all over the United States. In fact, 80% of the world's vermiculite was coming from the Libby mine.
I have lived in a house with ceiling insulation made from that vermiculite for over 20 years. Apparently, we were supposed to have been informed of that when the home was purchased but were not told. The local health department had the advice - "do not disturb it!" Wonderful.
"The Libby mine closed in 1999, and nearly $600 million has been spent on the largest, longest-running asbestos cleanup project in American history and is just now wrapping up. The Environmental Protection Agency has investigated or cleaned more than 7,100 properties and is slated to finish another 700 before completion.
Health officials have estimated the mines killed more than 400 Libby residents and sickened roughly 3,000. W.R. Grace and Co. escaped most liability when it filed for bankruptcy after the extent of contamination was revealed. ... Exposure to asbestos can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, a disease that causes scarring of the lungs. The latency period between exposure and diagnosis can span 20 to 50 years." the local Montana newspaper
Here is what Senator Max Baucus of Montana read into the Congressional Record
in 2001, "It is my judgment that W.R. Grace knew what was going on, knew the dust contained asbestos. This is a very serious form of asbestos called 'tremolite.' This is the worst kind of asbestos."
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks