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Cirian becomes EPA's full-time go-to guy

| October 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Libby residents have a new ally in efforts to remove vermiculite asbestos from homes and businesses.

Mike Cirian was hired by the Environmental Protection Agency during the summer to head the local program. He works out of the EPA office at 501 Mineral Ave.

In his position as remedial program manager and environmental engineer, Cirian provides a local contract for those with questions about asbestos removal. Jim Christiansen and Peggy Churchill will continue to work on the Libby project out of the Denver office.

He noted that people who want their property cleaned more quickly than the EPA schedule may hire a licensed asbestos contractor to do the job. To help increase that opportunity, the EPA will provide free training for local contractors. The first session is tentatively planned for February 2006.

Cirian, 44, has a degree in civil engineering with environmental emphasis from the University of Nebraska. He is a registered engineer with experience in design work and construction.

He was employed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers for eight years prior to being hired by EPA three months ago. Cirian spent six months in Iraq directing U.S. rebuilding efforts as chief construction engineer.

In that role he was in charge of providing electrical power, water, wastewater treatment and other aspects of infrastructure rehabilitation. Cirian helped establish schools and hospitals, among other facilities, with a $3.8 billion budget.

He said seeing children be able to attend school for the first time was a moving experience, one that affected his future career goals.

"When I got back I needed to do something to help people," he said.

Cirian, his wife Debbie, and 15-year-old daughter Holly moved to Libby from Wisconsin and have bought a home here. Debbie has worked as a nurse and respiratory therapist. Holly is a sophomore at Libby High School. The couple's two older sons are attending school and working in Wisconsin.

A hunter and fisherman, Cirian said he already feels at home in Montana.

Local residents with questions about the asbestos cleanup program can contact him at 293-6194.