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Letter: Thoughts on asbestos in Libby

| December 9, 2009 11:00 PM

Dear Editor:

For those with a bent toward research, it is fascinating to note that our federal appeals courts leaped ahead of science nearly three decades ago by determining that "asbestos is not a pollutant.”

In a stunning decision fueled by near precognition, rarely the case in our courtrooms, the appeals court determined that "for the purposes of liability, asbestos is not a pollutant, it is a hazardous substance.”

It was only with the much later and dynamic presence in Libby of Paul Peronard and Dr. Christopher Weis, that the Environmental Protection Agency finally began to get an inkling of why this truth was important. Unfortunately, dogma does not so easily die at the hands of just a handful who experience epiphany.

That explains why you still see EPA conducting stationary air testing for "asbestos" when it has no earthly use. Although Paul never dropped it to my knowledge, temperature inversions have little to do with "asbestos" exposures in Libby. General health – yes … "asbestos" – no.

Also of immense importance are the insurance clauses in homeowners’ insurance policies which exclude compensation for "pollutants.” These policies do not exclude compensation for "asbestos.” I'll let you think on that a bit but essentially what it means is there is a huge untapped monetary resource for Libby that has not been used to date … a resource EPA is not happy for anyone to know about.

Terry Trent  

Auburn, Calif.