You are on page 1of 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ENR

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1994 DOJ (202) 616-2765


EPA (303) 293-1773
RON RUTHERFORD
EPA (303) 294-7554
JIM EPPERS
TDD (202) 514-1888

MINING COMPANY PAYS PENALTY FOR CLEAN AIR ACT VIOLATIONS

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- W.R. Grace Company has agreed to pay a


$510,000 penalty to settle a Clean Air Act (CAA) complaint that
alleges the company improperly demolished several asbestos-
contaminated buildings in its Libby Mine in Montana, the
Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) announced today.
The federal government and Grace agreed to a settlement
contained in a consent decree lodged in U.S. District Court in
Missoula. The complaint, filed in March 1994, contended that the
buildings' insulation contained cancer-causing asbestos.
"The penalty, one of the largest asbestos NESHAPs (National
Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants) settlements in
the country, sends a clear message that violations of the
asbestos regulations will not be tolerated. Further, the
compliance program agreed to by the company reduces the
likelihood of similar future health hazards," said Lois J.
Schiffer, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment
and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.
"This result should encourage other companies to comply with the
environmental laws voluntarily to avoid serious penalties."
Asbestos NESHAPs are aimed at managing emissions and
reegulating the handling and disposal of asbestos-contaminated
material. The CAA directs EPA to identify hazardous air
pollutants and enact standards to protect communities from
exposure.
"Libby residents are not at current risk from the site, but
we do not know the levels of asbestos fibers that escaped prior
to our action," said Patricia D. Hull, Director of EPA's Regional
Air, Radiation and Toxics Division in Denver.
In 1992, a citizen notified EPA that suspected asbestos-
contaminated buildings were being destroyed. The Montana
Department of Health and Environmental Services inspected the
facility, found violations of the asbestos NESHAPs, and sent
Grace a warning letter.
The state has the lead role of enforcing asbestos
violations; however, EPA may step in if it believes the case
warrants further action.
"We concluded the violations in this case were serious,"
Hull said. "This led EPA to investigate and refer it to DOJ for
civil prosecution."
EPA officials say that during demolition, asbestos was
released into the air which could have been inhaled by anyone
downwind or at the site. However, because the asbestos releases
happened before any EPA or state investigation, no accurate air
analysis could be performed.
The settlement resolves claims against the company of
failing to:
​ Remove asbestos before doing work that would break up
or disturb the material.
​ Properly dispose of material that contained asbestos.
​ Comply with other requirements of the NESHAPs.
As part of the settlement Grace agreed to abide by all state
and federal asbestos laws and regulations in future
demolition/renovation projects. The company also agreed to
engage in a specific compliance program at 29 of its facilities
across the country.
These requirements involve notifying authorities prior to
action, obtaining certified surveys and inspections, and keeping
accurate records. If the company or its employees fail to meet
these obligations, EPA can impose additional substantial
penalties.
"We strongly urge others to follow CAA and asbestos NESHAPs
rules to prevent similar legal actions," Hull remarked.
There is a 30-day public comment period before the consent
decree becomes final.
###
94-505