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ARP officials: Zonolite insulation bags found in local attic

Daily Inter Lake | February 1, 2022 7:00 AM

Asbestos Resource Program officials said they are preparing to aid a U.S. Highway 2 homeowner who recently stumbled across two bags of Zonolite insulation in an attic.

The discovery comprised one of several of the agency’s ongoing projects across the county detailed in an update given to commissioners Jan. 19. Elzhon Anderson told commissioners he had inspected the site earlier in the month.

“It was just [those] two bags,” Anderson said. “I inspected the rest of the attic and didn’t find any vermiculite.”

A tear in one of the bags had led to a bit of vermiculite spilling out, according to Anderson. He said ARP employees were preparing a scope of work for the subsequent cleanup project and arrange for a contractor to remove the bags.

“That’s kind of new,” said County Commissioner Brent Teske (D-1) dryly. “Finding full bags of vermiculite.”

Anderson noted that the EPA had gone through the property.

“I don’t know how the EPA missed that,” he said.

As for other abatements, a project on Mineral Avenue has wrapped up, Anderson said. ARP is just waiting for the contractor to submit an invoice to the property owner.

Agency officials are planning a sampling project on a Troy property initially designated as a “non use area.” The land since has undergone development, Anderson said. He expects the project to launch later this year.

The organization is inspecting a Terrace View property in Libby after vermiculite was identified on areas of the land where tree stumps were recently removed. Anderson expected work there to begin in the spring.

The agency also helped out new property owners on U.S. Highway 2 who bought land with a refusal note.

“The new owners wanted some kind of sampling information,” Anderson told commissioners. “The owner actually did the self performing sampling. ARP did the oversight and we sent those to the certified lab. Everything came back clean. We issued them a new status letter and DEQ and EPA are going to remove the note on that property.”

Two projects, one in Troy and the other in Libby, have stalled — at least temporarily. In the Troy case, the homeowner has dropped communications with ARP, Anderson said. They are waiting to hear back from the Libby homeowner prior to arranging for a contractor to perform needed work, he said.

In December, the agency’s hotline received 11 calls, all from Libby. Most involved requests for EPA comfort letters or DEQ status letters, Anderson said. ARP also took 26 utility locate calls, 23 from Libby and three originating in Troy. ARP employees conducted seven site visits that month.