W.R. Grace offers $18.5M to settle Montana asbestos claims

Jan 10, 2023, 2:48 AM | Updated: 4:57 pm

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The owner of a former vermiculite mine in northwestern Montana that spread harmful asbestos in and around the town of Libby has offered $18.5 million to settle the last of the state’s claims for environmental damages, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Tuesday.

The proposed settlement was filed in W.R. Grace & Co.’s bankruptcy case in Delaware for the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site in Lincoln County.

Asbestos from a vermiculite mine owned by W.R. Grace beginning in 1963 polluted the area until the mine was shuttered in 1990. Cleanup began in 2000, after media reports spurred federal officials to investigate widespread health problems among area residents.

Microscopic asbestos fibers can cause lung problems and eventually death. Health officials estimate that several thousand people have been sickened in northwest Montana from exposure to Libby’s asbestos and at least 400 have died.

More than 2,600 homes, businesses and other properties were cleaned up at a cost of more than $600 million under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program for hazardous sites. W.R. Grace agreed in a 2008 settlement to pay the EPA $250 million for cleanup work.

“After years of negotiation following Grace’s historic damage, Libby and communities in Lincoln County can more fully recover,” Gianforte said in a statement. “I look forward to the positive impact this settlement can bring to the people of Libby and Lincoln County.”

W.R. Grace noted the settlement requires public review and court approval. The state is taking public comment through Feb. 13.

“This settlement is part of our ongoing commitment to constructively work with the Libby community, the state of Montana and other key stakeholders,” W.R. Grace spokesperson Sue Cardillo said in a statement.

The first $5 million would be due to the state within six months of reaching a final agreement. The additional payments, plus interest, would be made over 10 years.

The money would be used to restore, replace or rehabilitate damaged natural resources, state officials said. W.R. Grace would also provide the state with financial assurances for the operation and maintenance of an impoundment dam that holds asbestos-laden tailings from the former mine.

The $18.5 million would also settle most claims made by the state Department of Environmental Quality, but it does not affect W.R. Grace’s requirements to perform other Superfund work subject to EPA oversight.

More than 2,000 Montana residents reached settlements with the state totaling $68 million in 2011 and 2017 for failing to warn them about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

In February 2022, a jury awarded an Oregon man $36.5 million in a lawsuit against W.R. Grace’s workers’ compensation insurer from 1963-1973 because the company did not warn workers of those dangers. Hundreds of others have filed lawsuits and claims.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Paul Njoroge, right, points to photos of his wife and three children that were killed in the 2019 c...
Associated Press

Boeing pleads not guilty in case over deadly Max crashes

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Boeing pleaded not guilty Thursday to a fraud charge in an unusual case in which families of passengers who died in two plane crashes are trying to throw out a settlement the company reached to avoid prosecution. At a hearing dominated by emotional, wrenching testimony from passengers’ relatives, a federal […]
14 hours ago
abortion Capital gains tax Olympia meeting legislature abortion...
Associated Press

Washington lawmakers hear testimony on 7 abortion bills

Abortion rights proposals have been front and center in Olympia, Washington, this week as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals that would reinforce abortion access.
14 hours ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Justices weigh effort to balance Washington state’s tax code

SEATTLE (AP) — An effort to balance what is considered the nation’s most regressive state tax code came before the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday, with justices hearing arguments about whether they should overturn a prohibition on income taxes that dates to the 1930s. Washington is one of nine states without an income tax, and […]
14 hours ago
Flames leap skyward out of the Harper Square cooperative residential building in the Kenwood neighb...
Associated Press

Officials: Deadly Chicago high-rise fire was accidental

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago authorities said Thursday that a deadly fire in a high-rise apartment building was caused by someone smoking in a bedroom. In a brief statement, the Chicago Fire Department called the fire accidental and said investigators traced the cause to “careless use of smoking materials.” Investigators also found that a smoke detector […]
2 days ago
FILE - A Bed Bath & Beyond sign is shown in Mountain View, Calif., May 9, 2012. Bed Bath & Beyond s...
Associated Press

Bed Bath & Beyond says it’s in default on its loans

NEW YORK (AP) — Bed Bath & Beyond said Thursday that it’s in default on its loans and doesn’t have sufficient funds to repay what it owes. The home goods chain said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the default would force it to consider alternatives including restructuring its debt in bankruptcy court. […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Fighting intensifies in eastern Congo, displacing hundreds

GOMA, Congo (AP) — Fighting intensified around a town in eastern Congo Thursday as a rebel group seeking to expand the territory it controls increased pressure on government troops defending it, forcing hundreds of civilians to flee their homes. By evening it was unclear who controlled Kitchanga in North Kivu province. Videos on social media […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
W.R. Grace offers $18.5M to settle Montana asbestos claims