EPA nears conclusion of years-long project

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  • Warning signs and caution tape are typical at asbestos cleanup sites. (The Western News file photo)

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  • Warning signs and caution tape are typical at asbestos cleanup sites. (The Western News file photo)

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The sight of emergency shower trailers parked outside houses and crews shrouded in chemical protection masks working in yards and attics has become commonplace in Lincoln county.

The EPA crews moved house to house with their asbestos cleanup crews.

As dump trucks carrying contaminated soil maneuver down narrow streets, homeowners have mourned the loss of a dozen rose bushes, a thriving vegetable garden or a favorite tree.

But that all ends soon, with the Environmental Protection Agency setting March 31 as the deadline for residents and businesses to participate in the asbestos cleanup.

Knowing the dangers of exposure, the EPA is going to great lengths to make sure all properties in the Superfund site are at least tested for contamination.

“We are calling, leaving door hangers, knocking on doors and sending certified letters,” said the project manager for EPA’s Libby office, Mike Cirian.

“Since sending certified letters in January, the EPA has received access to 120 new properties representing 100 property owners,” said Jennifer Harrison, remedial project manager for the EPA. “Another 25 owners refused to act on the letter requesting access, and 65 letters were undeliverable or unclaimed.”

The EPA continues to try to contact owners, and implores those who have not yet participated in the cleanup to come forward, as anyone located within the Superfund site can get on the inspection list.

Without an inspection record from the EPA, selling a property in the future could become difficult, and could pose a public health hazard.

Property owners who do not sign up for inspection by March 31 will likely become financially responsible for future cleanup, at an estimated cost of $10,000 to $12,000. “Why not have us do it?” says Cirian. “We’re free.”

On behalf of the EPA, Harrison added that she would like to thank the hundreds of property owners who have already participated in the cleanup.

For more information, contact the EPA in Libby at 108 E. Ninth St., 406-293-6194.

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