EPA Recognizes Community as Libby
Clean-up Draws to a Close
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the work and collaboration in Libby since the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine became a Superfund site in 1999. To date, EPA has investigated over 8,100 properties and, as of mid-November 2018, completed the last of over 2,600 scheduled property clean-ups located within Libby and Troy. These clean-ups required the removal and replacement of more than one million cubic yards of contaminated soils.
“This is an incredibly resilient community and I am honored to recognize those who have made a difference, especially throughout the Superfund redevelopment efforts,” said Doug Benevento, EPA Regional administrator. “As this 19-year-long clean-up draws to a close, we are here to thank local and state agencies and organizations, and community members alike for their hard work, perseverance, and for envisioning a vibrant community.”
The Superfund program emerged as a priority to fulfill the Agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. Over the next year, this phase of the clean-up will be closed out and long-term operations and maintenance of the site will transfer to the state in 2020. EPA activities at the W.R. Grace mine site will continue into the near future.
EPA began working with the City of Libby in 2009 to see how clean-up work at W.R. Grace’s former export plant could support beneficial reuse in this area. The 17-acre former plant site along the Kootenai River was used by W.R. Grace to store mined vermiculite before it was shipped. The City of Libby came together with EPA, Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Lincoln County, plus many other federal and state partners and community organizations, to develop a coordinated approach to the area’s cleanup and redevelopment. In 2013, the City of Libby officially opened Riverfront Park. The park has become a crown jewel for Libby and is used for community gatherings, weddings, and celebrations, including Libby’s annual Riverfront Blues festival.
In addition to recognizing the City of Libby for its work on the Riverfront Park, EPA also recognized the following organizations for superior achievement in site reuse and environmental sustainability:
- Libby Parks Committee
- Flathead Electric Cooperative
- Lincoln County’s David Thompson Search and Rescue
- Society of American Foresters
- BNSF Railway
- Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
- Montana Department of Environmental Quality
- U.S. Forest Service – Kootenai National Forest
- United States Army Corps of Engineers – Omaha District
Contractors for EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were also recognized for having an exceptional commitment to safety on this project. In October of this year, contractors surpassed the one-million-hour mark without a lost workday incident.