EPA says asbestos cleanup efforts not adequate

Premises liability issues are often associated with asbestos, which can have serious implications for businesses and residents of North Carolina. A new ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency, regarding asbestos exposure and proper cleanup protocols in one town in Montana, could set a benchmark for cleanup efforts in other communities across the nation.

After a $447 million cleanup of asbestos in the town, asbestos still remains in houses, public buildings, in rail lines and in the ground. Now, the EPA is committed to tackling the serious problem. Its latest cleanup proposal for the town, which was contaminated from a vermiculite mine several years ago, would apply a standard for cleanup that would be 5,000 times stricter than used in the past cleanup efforts.

Asbestos cleanup must be done thoroughly and properly so that people will not be continually exposed to the toxin, which can have devastating and deadly consequences. In this one town of approximately 3,000 residents, over 1,700 residents have been sickened by asbestos exposure, and another 400 residents have already died.

The company that previously owned the mine settled with the EPA for $250 million in 2008, to cover the costs of cleaning up the town. It is still responsible for cleanup efforts at the site of the now defunct mine. The company asked the EPA to conduct further scientific research before applying the new standard. The company wrote to the EPA, citing “inevitable” consequences for cleanup efforts throughout the nation and argued that farmers, building owners and the government would face “enormous, unexpected and unnecessary costs.” Industry and trade groups are also fighting the new standard.

But for families in this one town and throughout the nation who have seen their loved ones suffer and die from asbestos-related disorders, the new EPA standard is a welcome benchmark for a problem that was not adequately addressed for decades.

Source: The Huffington Post, “EPA pushes tough asbestos standard for Mont. town,” Matthew Brown, Sept. 27, 2012

  • Our firm works with victims who have been exposed to asbestos resulting from a property owner’s negligence in removing it. For more information on this topic, please visit our North Carolina premises liability page.