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Coronavirus Delays Transfer Of Libby Asbestos Management To State

Libby Montana.
Nora Saks
Montana Public Radio
Libby Montana.

The state of Montana was slated to take control of part of the Libby Asbestos Superfund site from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on April 1. But because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, that transfer is being postponed indefinitely.

Last year, EPA determined that the cleanup of residential and commercial properties from asbestos contamination in Libby and Troy was complete. The federal agency planned to transition responsibility for operating and maintaining those units of the Superfund cleanup to Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality on April 1 at a public meeting.

Beth Archer with EPA says since public meetings are currently prohibited, the agencies are going to wait to do the formal hand-off.

"We just really want to be there for the community in person, so we’re hoping that we’ll be able to be out there soon, but we’re just waiting, as everyone is, with this COVID situation as it develops."

Archer says in the meantime, EPA is working closely with DEQ to make sure that when the official transition does happen, the state will be clear on its responsibilities and able to hit the ground running.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Nora Saks is a freelance radio and print journalist investigating themes of environmental justice in the Crown of the Continent and beyond.