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ARP putting up posters to raise awareness of asbestos exposure

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | July 30, 2021 7:00 AM

Officials with the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program have hung posters in local government and business buildings, hoping to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Campaign organizers placed the placards in stores frequented by contractors in Libby and were planning to do the same in Troy as of a July 21 Lincoln County commissioners meeting. Virginia Kocieda, ARP director, told commissioners the signs would go up in Troy City Hall.

Contractors should always contact ARP before conducting renovations or demolitions within the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site. Residents may come into contact with vermiculite when removing old carpet, wall outlets, drywall or installing ceiling fans. Landscape work — including gardening, rototilling or mowing — and extensive digging can expose vermiculite, according to the ARP website.

ARP employees received 51 hotline calls from Libby and 15 from Troy in June, Kocieda said during a regular agency update before county commissioners last week.

Most callers contacted the program to request EPA comfort letters and state Department of Environmental Quality status letters. Kocieda said many of the requests for the letters, which document how environmental officials addressed potential contamination of local real estate, were related to property sales.

Program officials saw 103 utility locate requests — 93 coming from Libby and 10 from Troy — and performed 39 site visits in June. Kocieda said staff members were working on two abatement projects and one soil-sampling project. ARP had received one request to change a lot zoned as agricultural to residential.

ARP is funded through a memorandum of agreement between the EPA and DEQ. As of the beginning of July, the program had used $290,913 of the $600,000 officials allocated to support the program from July 1, 2020 to May 31, 2022.