Trial of Mining Giant W.R. Grace & The People of Libby, Montana

While the Crandall Creek odyssey was unfolding, I happened upon the documentary ‘Libby, Montana.’  The most shocking as touted by Earl Lovick during deposition, as manager of the mine for the W. R. Grace corporation, that the “the dangers of vermiculite” were considered to be “common knowledge.”   The documentary also enjoyed a stint on PBS on the series P.O.V.

U.S. V. GRACE

“Most extensive environmental criminal trial in U.S. history’ begins Monday”

“A Missoula federal court is the setting for a showdown between the federal government and W.R. Grace, which stands accused of deliberately concealing the dangers of tremolite-tainted vermiculite from the people of Libby Montana.”

In what may be the most closely watched U.S. asbestos contamination case in recent memory, the criminal trial of the 155-year-old company, W.R. Grace , and six of its former executives begins today in a Missoula, Montana federal courtroom.

The U.S. Department of Justice says 1,200 people in and around Libby, Montana, either died or were sickened by vermiculite deposits contaminated by amphibole asbestos (more commonly known as tremolite), considered one of the more deadly forms of asbestos….

The tremolite-tainted vermiculite was taken home for personal use by mine employees, who also were allowed to leave the property wearing asbestos-contaminated clothing. The vermiculite was also used in junior and senior high school running tracks…..

The government claimed that the defendants “obstructed, impeded, and frustrated government authorities by withholding information regarding the hazardous nature and friability of the tremolite asbestos contaminated vermiculite and asserting that the Libby operations and Libby vermiculite posed no risk to public health and safety and the environment.”

The trial began in February and continues.  KPAX – has a a ‘reporting site’ with daily updates, a time line and comes complete with Twitter.

Another tremendous resource for the trial is Andrew Schneider, who writes for the Seattle-PI on issues of “public health and worker safety.”  His blog, ‘Secret Ingredients’ is following along the Grace Trial as well. You also find a link to one of my favorite public health blogs, ‘The Pump Handle’ so, I’d say, he’s pretty damned serious about his reporting gig.


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