An Associated Press investigation found that the federal government has known for at least three years that the wood piles were contaminated with an unknown level of asbestos, even as Libby residents hauled truckload after truckload of the material away from the site and placed it in yards, in city parks, outside schools and at the local cemetery. The Environmental Protection Agency did not stop the removal of the material until the AP began investigating in early March.
Regulators still do not know what effect the material could have on public health, but EPA documents obtained by the AP showed that the agency found potentially deadly asbestos fibers in four of 20 samples taken from the piles of scrap wood in 2007. The sprawling piles came from a now-defunct timber mill that took thousands of trees from a forest tainted with asbestos from a nearby mine.
- AP NewsBreak: EPA knew about Mont. contamination (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- AP NewsBreak: EPA knew about Mont. contamination (sfgate.com)
- New danger found in Montana asbestos town (cbsnews.com)