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Libby Community Advisory Group
Meeting Summary

March 28, 2002
Introductions

Gerald Mueller and members of the Libby Community Advisory Group (CAG) introduced themselves. A list of the members and guests in attendance is attached below as Appendix 1.

Agenda

Mr. Mueller reviewed an agenda for this meeting including the following topics:

  • Congressional Letters
  • CARD Clinic Report
Public Comment

Gerald Mueller reported that the letters approved by the CAG at its March 14, 2002 meeting were mailed to Senators Baucus and Burns and Congressman Rehberg on March 19, 2002.

EPA Report

Wendy Thomi reported on behalf of EPA.

Declaration of a Public Health Emergency in Libby and Zonolite Insulation Removal

The public health emergency determinataion has not yet been made. Paul Peronard continues to gear up for removing insulation from Libby homes and businesses so that no time will be lost if EPA makes the determination.

Superfund Remediation

Jim Christiansen, Superfund Remedial Project Manager, plans to attend the April 11 CAG meeting to discuss the residential sampling plan. Sampling will begin this summer. EPA intends to sample every house in Libby on a voluntary basis, i.e. sampling won't occur unless home owners give their permission.

Track Equipment

Mr. Peronard is working with the school district to replace or pay for the track equipment removed during the cleanups.

Access Settlement

Judge Molloy has not entered the settlement between EPA and W.R. Grace concerning the access lawsuit, so the $2.75 million has not yet been released for Libby asbestos-related health treatment.

CAG Member Question - Can the cost of applying to the IRS for a 501(c)(3) designation be covered by the Technical Assistance Grant (TAG)?

Answer - I will talk with Diana Hammer who manages the TAG program in Montana to find out. She has said that money spent prior to the grant award cannot be reimbursed. Similarly, TAG funds could not be used to purchase video equipment prior to the grant award.

CAG Member Comment - I have checked with Kevin Mellott at Montana Tech to determine if the Technical Outreach Services for Communities Program(TOSC) could provide funding for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training. The TOSC Program cannot provide funding.

Audience Member Question - Since Congress has not re-authorized the tax on the oil and chemical industries for the Superfund Program, how will cleanups be funded?

Answer - Historically, about 70% of the funds for Superfund cleanups have come directly from the responsible parties (RPs). EPA will continue to pursue the RPs. The remaining 30% of expenditures came initially from the Superfund moneys provided by the tax. After the cleanups, EPA would seek repayment for the cleanups from the RPs. The 30% will now have to come from the federal general fund through Congressional appropriation. At the national level, EPA is looking at how Superfund dollars have been spent, seeking increased efficiency.

ATSDR Report

Dan Strausbaugh reported on behalf of ATSDR. ATSDR personnel from Atlanta will visit Libby during the second week of April and will attend the April 11 CAG meeting. The ATSDR team will be conducting the public health assessment that accompanies Superfund designations. The assessment will take about one year to prepare and will then be published as a draft and subject to a 30 to 45 day comment period. Mr. Strausbaugh also announced that he recently learned that ATSDR is seeking nationally for volunteers to serve on the agency's Board of Science Councilors. This Board monitors ATSDR activities at Superfund sites. The deadline for applying is this coming Sunday. Because of the short time until the deadline, the local ATSDR office will fax any applications from Libby community members to Atlanta.

CAG Member Question - What is the target of the public health assessment?

Answer - The assessment will seek to determine all possible exposure pathways and health outcomes.

Audience Member Question - Will other diseases such as immune system disorders including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia be addressed in the assessment?

Answer - Yes.

County Report

Tracy Velazquez, one of the County's grant writers, reported on behalf of the County. Ms. Velazquez, Ron Anderson, and John Johanson met yesterday with Governor Martz in Helena to raise the health funding issue. Governor Martz was receptive and positive. She did not promise any state funds, but promised to call Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Thompson in support of a white lung program that might aid people in Libby with asbestos disease. The Governor also said that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will look into use of federal grant funds to help assess the cost of long-term health care needs of Libby residents. Ms. Velazquez stated that she was working with Karol Spaz, Lincoln County Health Nurse, to pursue a grant from the Paul Allen Community Foundation for non-medical assistance for people homebound due to asbestos disease.

Audience Member Question - What other grants are you seeking?

Answer - We have applied for an EPA Environmental Justice Grant. We are also interested in other purposes for grants as well as possible grant sources. Please share any ideas with Ron Anderson.

CAG Member Question -You said that John Johanson represented the Asbestos-Related Disease Health Care Trust, Inc. (Trust) in yesterday's meeting with Governor Martz. How was he selected?

Answer - LeRoy Thom, a CAG and Trust member was unable to attend and recommended Mr. Johanson who is the Trust Treasurer.

St. John's Lutheran Hospital Report

Pat Cohan reported that a conference on asbestos disease will be held in Missoula on June 24 and 25. A session on Libby tremolite will be held on Monday morning June 24. Fliers on the conference should be available soon. The conference organizers are considering a reduced registration fee of about $30 for members of the Libby community.

CAG Member Question - Would EPA provide funding assistance so someone from Libby could attend?

Answer by Wendy Thomi - Yes.

Technical Assistance Grant

Because of the low number of CAG members in attendance, Clinton Maynard recommended that the decision about CAG application for a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) from EPA be postponed until the next meeting. Mr. Maynard volunteered to look into the requirements for applying to the IRS for 501(c)(3) status.

CAG Member Comment - Would participation in CAG meetings count towards the 20% matching requirements?

Answer by Wendy Thomi - Yes, time spent in CAG meetings could be counted as an in-kind contribution. I am not sure if time spend prior to the TAG application would count, however.

Audience Member Question - Would a TAG be available to government entities?

Answer by Wendy Thomi - No, political sub-divisions and their agencies are not eligible.

CAG Member Question - Could existing 501(c)(3) organizations apply?

Answer by Wendy Thomi - Yes.

CAG Member Question - Would the CAG or its subcommittee administer the TAG?

Answer by Clinton Maynard - I am not sure and would welcome ideas.

CAG Member Question - Since Mr. Maynard has taken the lead in bringing the TAG possibility forward, would he bring the CAG a proposal for a structure and functioning of an entity to administer the grant?

Answer by Clinton Maynard - Yes, I will bring a proposal to the next meeting.

Comment by Wendy Thomi - I will be happy to coordinate a conference call with Diana Hammer concerning a TAG.

CAG Member Comment - If the CAG applies for a TAG, a TAG oversight group separate from the CAG might be beneficial.

CAG Member Comment - I would prefer that a CAG sub-committee oversee the TAG. The CAG is a resource for the Libby community. Its members are the people pursuing the asbestos-related issues.

CAG Action - The CAG agreed to postpone a decision until the April 11 meeting.

CAG Meeting Frequency

David Latham proposed that the CAG meet only once per month. He argued that recent meetings have not had a sufficient number of agenda topics for a full two hour meeting and that CAG member attendance of two meetings per month has been down. Because the Superfund decision has been made, only one meeting per month is needed.

CAG Member Comment - Until recently, we needed two meetings per month, and we may need them again in the future.

Audience Member Question - If you cut back to one meeting per month are you willing to meet for more than two hours at a time?

CAG Action - With one exception, those members present voted in favor of meeting only once per month.

Public Comment

Audience Member Question - I know of a family who is remodeling its home which contains asbestos insulation. Because of the risk for contamination, the family has moved out and is renting another home during the remodeling. However, they can no longer afford to both pay their house payments and the rent of another home. Can EPA provide these people any financial assistance while they are temporarily displaced as it did for the Siefke family?

Answer by Wendy Thomi - I will ask Paul Peronard.

Audience Member Comment - Many men have taken the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training, but the Job Service Center says that no jobs are available.

Response by Wendy Thomi - Hiring for the cleanup work will not begin until April. When hiring does begin, EPA's contractors will use the Job Service Center.

CAG Member Question - At the last CAG meeting, it was reported that in response to litigation against it, the State is taking the position that it is not responsible for protecting the health of its citizens. Does the County take the same position?

Answer by Commissioner Windom - You are asking a legal question that I cannot answer. If you supply me with a copy of the State's legal position, I will ask the County Attorney about our position.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for April 11, 2002 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room of Libby City Hall.

Appendix 1

CAG Member & Guest Attendance List
March 28, 2002

Members

Group/Organization Represented

Don Wilkins

Lumber and Sawmill Workers

Sandy Wagner

Community Health Center (CHC)

Jenan Swenson

Dedrick Alternate for Gayla Benefield

George Keck

CHC

Mike Switzer

Asbestos Victim

Bob Dedrick

Asbestos Victim

George Bauer

City of Libby

Kenneth Hays

Senior Citizens

Wendy Thomi

EPA Community Involvement

Eileen Carney

State Representative

Dan Strausbaugh

ATSDR

Clinton Maynard

Area Asbestos Research Group

David F. Latham

The Montanian Newspaper

Norita Skramstad

Asbestos Victim


Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery