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Leavitt postpones Libby visit

| May 19, 2004 12:00 AM

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt¹s scheduled visit to Libby on May 26 has been cancelled reported Jim Christiansen, on-site coordinator for the Superfund cleanup, at Thursday night¹s CAG meeting.

U.S. Senator Max Baucus, who secured Leavitt¹s promise to visit the Libby community, said Monday that the EPA director¹s visit will be rescheduled because of scheduling conflicts.

The former Utah governor promised Baucus he would visit Libby personally to assess asbestos cleanup activities there following years of vermiculite mining by the bankrupt W.R. Grace Company.

Baucus said today the visit will be rescheduled in either June or July, which also may enable Senator Conrad Burns, Rep. Dennis Rehberg, and Governor Judy Martz to attend.

³This will work better for everybody,² Baucus said.

Baucus said he would like for Leavitt to, among other things, tour the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases ? a clinic Baucus helped establish with federal funds — and hold a town hall meeting.

Baucus has been critical of the EPA¹s slow cleanup progress, noting the agency has identified more than 1,300 properties in Libby that still require cleanup and that the agency¹s timeframe for cleaning up the town has been pushed back — from 2004 to 2008.

Having been in Libby for three years, Baucus says it¹s unacceptable that the agency has completed only 10 percent of the cleanup work needed to give the town a clean bill of health.

³It¹s important to me that we present a united front when it comes to doing what¹s right for Libby,² Baucus said, noting his office is working to nail down a new date for the visit.