Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Questions Persist for Asbestos-ravaged Libby, Montana

May 24, 2010 - Gayla Benefield and Eva Thomson are sisters who have grown used to death. For two decades, they have watched asbestos from a nearby vermiculite mine strangle their parents, Thomson’s husband, an aunt, several in-laws and numerous neighbors and friends.

The sisters’ town, Libby, population 3,000, has emerged as the deadliest Superfund site in the nation’s history.

Health workers tracking Libby’s plight estimate that at least 400 people have died of asbestos-related illnesses — from W.R. Grace mine workers and family members who breathed in the dust they brought home in their clothes, to those who played as kids in waste piles dumped by the company behind the community baseball field. Some 1,500 locals and others who were exposed have chest X-rays revealing the faint, cloudy shadows of asbestos scarring on their lungs.


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