US Environmental Protection Agency Helps Miners and Families Affects by Asbestos with $130M | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The EPA announced its “first-ever public health emergency” claiming that the federal government will give $130 million to help people who were affected by asbestos while in the mines in Montana.  This same situation that the EPA is trying to help improve has been responsible for about 200 deaths.  The money is targeting towns like Libby and Troy where workers were unknowingly working with a mineral that contained toxic forms of asbestos.  Not only were these workers harming themselves by working in the mine, but they were also bringing the contamination home on their clothing.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 500 people out of the 3,900 who live in both towns have “asbestos-related” problems like lung cancer and asbestosis.  Additionally, about 50 new cases occur each year in both the miners and their families.  Although the EPA has had the authority to declare a public health emergency since 1980, it has been unclear what constitutes an emergency.  The main directive of this the 1980s policy was to make sure that dangerous materials were being removed from buildings.  This new declaration was presented about six weeks after executives of the mine were acquitted on a claim that they were not being truthful about the dangers of the mine.

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