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Asbestos cleanup begins in Troy

| April 25, 2007 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News

The asbestos cleanup in Troy is under way.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has opened an office at 303 Third Ave. in Troy across from Kootenai Senior Center.

The agency — from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 25 — will host an informational meeting at the senior center so residents can learn more about the cleanup.

The extent of what will need cleaned remains unknown.

"Toxic studies need to be done," said Catherine LeCours, the federal Superfund project manager for Montana Department of Environmental Quality in Helena.

"Because of the proximity to Libby and the fact that a lot of workers lived in Troy, they could've taken it home on their clothing. I expect to find it at a reasonably less frequent (rate) than Libby." It's not known when cleanup will begin.

"It's a funding issue," LeCours said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been cleaning up asbestos-contaminated vermiculite in Libby since 1999, which was mined and processed here from the 1920s to 1990. More than 200 have died from the contamination and some 2,000 suffer from related illnesses.

It's expected to take two construction seasons to inspect 1,200 properties in the city of Troy, along Highway 2 from Bull Lake Road to Yaak Flats and some along Callahan, Iron Creek and Lake Creek roads, LeCours said. Inspections will begin April 30.

About $1.2 million will be spent this season, which will run through September.

Letters were mailed to property owners asking for permission to access properties. Within one week, 170 had been signed and returned, said Michelle Carlson, community involvement coordinator in the DEQ's Troy office.

"As soon as they heard, their response was enormous," Carlson said.

Inspections will take one to three hours, LeCours said. Tetra Tech EM, an environmental consulting and engineering services firm with headquarters in Chicago and an office in Helena, will do inspections. Up to 30 employees will be trained to do the work.

"I will be there for most of the summer," she said. "I'm pretty much taking up residence in Troy. The field team is also taken up residency. I really want to thank the community for their hospitality. The city has been really working hard to get apartments."

Property owners who do not return agreements will be visited. The office in Troy is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 295-9238.