Asbestos Resource Program funding in flux
Funding for the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program is in limbo as the Libby Superfund site is transferred from federal to state oversight, according to Virginia Kocieda the director of the ARP.
On July 1, the cooperative agreement/grant between the EPA and the Lincoln County Board of Health, which had been funding the ARP for the past two years, expired when the Montana Department of Environmental Quality assumed responsibility of maintaining the Superfund site. As of yet, the Lincoln County Board of Health and the DEQ have not finalized an agreement that would provide the ARP with future funding.
“We’re kind of in the dark right now,” Kocieda said in reference to the details of the new agreement.
George Jameson, a member of the Libby Asbestos Superfund Oversight Committee, explained that the funds the DEQ will allocate to the ARP will come from a cooperative agreement between the DEQ and the EPA. This additional layer of bureaucracy creates more uncertainty for the ARP as the Lincoln County program is not a party to the agreement between the state and federal agencies.
According to County Commissioner Mark Peck, the county will help fund the ARP until the agreement with the DEQ is finalized.
“We’re hoping that the money is reimbursed back,” said Kocieda in regards to the county funds. “It’s unfair for the public to pay for it.”
The ARP was created in 2012 with the mission of reducing exposure to asbestos in the Libby Superfund site. Program outreach has centered around keeping the public informed of the risks associated with asbestos contact and providing residents with best management practices and resources for reducing exposure.
With a limited revenue stream, the ARP will focus on using every dollar in a meaningful way. The program will continue providing its essential services, which include answering their hotline to respond to questions about the Superfund site and conducting property evaluations for asbestos contamination, according to Kocieda.