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Asbestos mine owners reach settlement with state

Long before asbestos makes it way into our homes, office buildings and construction materials, it starts in a mine. And when it comes to mines like the one in Northern Vermont, it can still pose a threat to people and the environment even when it is inactive. Recently, the state filed a lawsuit against the Vermont Asbestos Group, who owns the mine, looking to recover the costs of preventing the asbestos in the mine from being released and cleaning up the damage that has already been done by the toxic mineral

The two sides recently reached an agreement and a settlement was announced. While the specific amount in the settlement was not disclosed, it is thought to be substantial. The costs of cleaning up the asbestos and preventing it from causing further damage to the area is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars. 

According to reports, the fact that the two sides have reached a settlement may indicate that the owners of the mine are unable to cover the costs of cleaning up the area themselves. They cannot simply ignore the problem or hope it goes away on its own. It will likely take significant time and resources to deal with the huge supply of dangerous materials at the site.

In order to properly handle the clean-up, there are efforts being made to prevent erosion in the long-term and dealing with an immediate threat of vulnerable dry ore that is being stored in a building with a crumbling roof. Left unattended, both of these situations could make it very easy for the asbestos to be released into the air, soil or water. Residents in the area would then be in serious danger of developing an asbestos-related disease due to the exposure. 

While the mine has been inactive since 1993, it still poses a serious threat to people in the area. Cleaning up asbestos properly and safely can be an expensive and extensive process. However, it is essential that it be done effectively so that the asbestos is does not put other people in danger. 

Source: VPR, "State And Asbestos Mine Owners Reach Settlement," Steve Zind, Sept. 6, 2013

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