Contractor sues state of Montana for reportedly failing to crack down on asbestos violations

An asbestos-disposal contractor in Montana is taking state officials to court for reportedly failing to enforce asbestos violations rules.

asbestos up close

AP reports that Ingraham Environmental of Butte filed an asbestos lawsuit at the state District Court in Silver Bow-Butte County against the city Montana. According to the lawsuit, asbestos-containing-materials (ACMs) were being dumped in Montana landfills illegally. Anyone around the open-air landfills could easily breathe in asbestos fibers, putting them in danger of developing life-threatening illnesses, the lawsuit claimed.

According to the lawsuit, Butte suing due to Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) “failure to manage asbestos waste … both at the level of inspection and at the entry to appropriate landfills, asbestos waste is regularly being dumped in open air in our landfills, endangering landfill workers, transporters, and anyone who breathes air in the area of these dumps.”

Lawyers for the for the Montana DEQ argued that their client wasn’t required to actively pursue and enforce asbestos removal violations. Yet, Doug Ingraham of Ingraham Environmental told The Montana Standard that they had copies of the law books regarding asbestos removal and the state wasn’t do its job to ensure the rules were adhered to.

“We have the laws on the books,” said  Ingraham. “We think the rules protect us, but there’s no enforcement.”

Asbestos has always been a huge issue in Montana. The state of Libby was the site of the most dangerous environmental disasters in the U.S. to date. Libby is home to mines where natural asbestos is found, and in 1919, people began pulling the mineral out of the mines and using it in numerous construction. Mining for asbestos continued for decades, exposing workers to the dangers that come about when inhaling or ingesting asbestos, such as the risk of developing life-threatening illnesses such as mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.

Eventually, W.R. Grace & Company took over the asbestos mining business, creating a toxic environment that put Libby residents in extreme danger. In 1990, the mine closed, but the dangers of it took decades to contain. In the meantime, the residents of Libby lived around the dangers of asbestos daily. Around 400 Libby residents died from asbestos-related illnesses and thousands more are currently living with diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Libby is now a Superfund Site, meaning land that has been so contaminated in the U.S. that the EPA named as a “cleanup candidate,” where exhaustive resources go into making the area safe again.

The lawsuit is being handled by Judge Brad Newman. Check back with Mesothelioma Lawyer Center for additional updates.

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