What's the difference between what W.R. Grace did and what the 9/11 terrorists did?
To the Editor:
My question to the public and the politicians is, "What is the difference between a corporation knowingly causing loved ones to die and the present worldwide terrorists?"
I ask this because I grew up in Libby and now have asbestosis along with my siblings and my late parents. My parents passed in 2001 and both had complications from asbestosis.
My family is not the only one. There are at least a thousand more families and the count keeps growing.
This is not some blind issue that fell from the sky just recently. The deadly health issues of Libby and the W.R. Grace company's mining of vermiculite has been known since the early 1950s by state and federal agencies.
None of my family, with the exception of one brother and myself, worked for W.R. Grace. I worked for them for about 1 1/2 years, and my brother worked about one or two months, and we both have the disease.
I have a son who was 2 years old when I worked there and has now been diagnosed with the disease, which he acquired from my work clothes. He is now 33.
When I worked at the Grace mine, I was told that there was no truth in the rumors about the dust causing health issues. We were told you could eat vermiculite on your cereal and it would be harmless.
Later on it has been discovered that Grace had been warned numerous times by both the state of Montana and Bureau of Mine Safety that there were very dangerous levels of tremolite fibers and it was deadly.
Nothing was ever said to any of my fellow miners or me about those findings, nor did those state or federal agencies ever approach the employees with any information that would have alerted us to the danger.
I have a real deep anger and loathing toward Grace and the agencies that let now thousands of lives infected or taken indiscriminately for the purpose of profit.
Please do not think I am anti-business, for I am a vigorous supporter of the free enterprise system.
Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in less than two weeks, which gave birth to this wonderful nation. The U.S. Congress and Senate have had this issue for over eight years, and after many attempts to provide compensation to the victims, nothing has been done except talk of the grave travesty and the need to do something.
I have a friend that died from this disease. The Senate should create some type of comprehensive solution to this problem. Comprehensive is a buzz word for we have no clue on what to do nor are we interested in learning.
The families of 9/11 had an outpouring of love, help and compensation which was rightly deserved. The victims of the attack on Libby, miners and their families, get Bozo legal experts, a lot of talk about nothing, or as my late father used to say, "they're peeing on my leg and telling me it's raining, and it's worth just about a bucket of spit."
I have one other small question to ask the unions.
I had to join the Operating Engineers Local 361 as an employee. So when I was diagnosed with the disease, I called the International Union of Operating Engineers and asked what help they were going to provide to the former members knowing that the problems were too large for the local chapter. Their reply was, it is the past and they doubt anything could be done and really did not know about the problem.
My understanding was the union was there to protect our working conditions and provide an avenue for help. That was in 1998 when I asked. Gosh, I am still waiting for my union protection and help they are going to provide.
In the headlines, Iraq is the main focus, and the loss of some 3,000 armed service men and women along with the 25,000 wounded. I wonder where the outrage over the death and contamination of thousands of men, women and children is?
To the U.S. Senate, I say that I can solve this matter of compensation. It would be much like the fairness doctrine.
Give the miners and their families the same retirement, health benefits, travel allowance and all the other perks you get for doing nothing. I can learn to do our vital work for the nation just as well as you can. In fact, I will do what you do for let's say 10 percent less and save the nation a ton of money.
I know I have others that will join me in this lesson in democracy. Just let us know when we can start.