Montana Sued Over Asbestos Dumping Issues
In a state that has already experienced more than its share of asbestos-related problems, there’s now another one to add to the list.
A contractor has filed suit against Montana’s environmental agency for failing to crack down on individuals and companies that practice improper asbestos disposal, therefore putting the public’s health at risk.
According to an article in US News and World Report, Ingraham Environmental, located in the city of Butte, has filed a lawsuit in District Court in that county, alleging that asbestos is being dumped in open-air sites around the state and that the state is doing nothing to monitor this illegal dumping or to prosecute those who are the culprits.
The suit notes that such behavior poses a danger to the workers at the dumps and anyone else who finds it necessary to be in those locations.
“We have the laws on the books,” Doug Ingraham of Ingraham Environmental told The Montana Standard. “We think the rules protect us, but there’s no enforcement.”
Indeed, Montana already boasts some pretty strict rules in regards to asbestos disposal. After all, the EPA has been busy disposing of asbestos for more than 15 years in the town of Libby in northwestern Montana near the Canadian border, a place where thousands have been sickened by asbestos-tainted vermiculite from the W.R. Grace-owned mine there.
Hence, you think they would know better.
But when the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) first replied to Ingraham’s lawsuit, they certainly didn’t deny that this illegal asbestos dumping was happening.
Apparently, they were more than familiar as to the problems with asbestos disposal. However, they noted that it wasn’t the state’s problem but that of the landfill operators.
According to the US News article, DEQ public policy director Kristi Ponozzo noted that the agency was working with representatives of the asbestos industry to “address complexities within the state and federal laws that govern asbestos regulation.”
The agency appointed an asbestos advisory group last year, convened in order to increase awareness and compliance with disposal rules, she said.
The article notes that while the agency did indeed spend nearly $600 million to clean up the town of Libby and the W.R. Grace property, where they manufactured contaminated Zonolite™ insulation, it seems to have forgotten about proper disposal of the insulation when it’s removed from homes around the remainder of the state.
Ingraham is more than familiar with the problems surround improper disposal. He notes that he and his family have been in the asbestos abatement business since the 1980s and that his father was trained in the business by people who have now died of diseases like mesothelioma.
He just doesn’t want to see the pattern continue.