TV show details asbestos poisoning in Libby, Mont. and other hot spots

November 7th, 2005

ABC’s Nightline recently aired a two-part series entitled “A Killer in Town,” about the asbestos epidemic in Libby, Montana, site of the W.R. Grace mine. It explained how the poisonous mineral has shattered this mountain town and many other cities across the country.

The show determined that 236 cities (known as “hot spots”) in 42 states are part of the Libby environmental disaster because Grace shipped its asbestos in every direction.

“Although Libby is almost certainly the worst case [of poisoning], it is also not the only vermiculite-poisoned place in America. In its 30 years of operation here, W.R. Grace shipped out, over these very rail tracks, tens of millions of tons of this dangerous material all across America and the rest of the world. And those railroad tracks led almost everywhere,” said Dave Marash of Nightline.

The television show detailed how officials at the W.R. Grace company, who now face criminal charges, knowingly exposed millions of people to dangerous tremolite asbestos particles and then engaged in a massive cover-up. Hundreds have died and are now dying in Libby—and the other hot spots—from asbestos-caused diseases such as mesothelioma.

One of the people interviewed was Susan Vento of the Committee to Protect Mesothelioma Victims. She worries that Congress will pass legislation, S. 852, due to come up in early 2006, that would provide special treatment for victims in Libby, while most others would receive little or no compensation.

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