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W.R. Grace Liable for Libby; Montana Cleanup Costs

Release Date: 08/29/2003
Contact Information:

Teresa Libera 202-564-7873/

(08/29/03) The U.S. Dept. of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the District Court of Montana has ordered W.R. Grace & Co. to pay over $54.5 million to reimburse the federal government for the costs of investigation and cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby, Mont. The ruling was issued on Aug. 26 by Judge Donald W. Molloy and stated W.R. Grace was liable for costs related to the investigation and cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby and ruled the EPA’s revised method for calculating indirect, or overhead, costs is appropriate and those costs may be recovered from W.R. Grace. This is the first time a federal district court has ruled on EPA’s revised method for calculating overhead costs. W.R. Grace owned and operated a vermiculite mine and vermiculite processing facilities in Libby, Mont., from 1963 to 1990. The vermiculite ore found in Libby is contaminated with asbestos fibers. Mining and processing activities resulted in the spread of vermiculite--and the associated asbestos fibers--to numerous homes, businesses and schools throughout the town. Asbestos, a recognized human carcinogen, is known to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a lethal tumor of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavities. Exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, a disease characterized by fibrotic scarring of the lungs. EPA has been removing asbestos-contaminated soils and vermiculite in and near Libby since May 2000. In April 2001, W.R. Grace filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Delaware. Any payments on the judgement must be approved by the bankruptcy court.