Monday, May 12, 2003

Deep 'Deception'

Placerville author puts human face on deadly effects of asbestos exposure

This is an article about Michael Bowker, author of Fatal Deception:How Big Business is Still Killing Us with Asbestos, a story of how the W.R. Grace Company knowingly exposed its workers to asbestos.
Libby, set in a valley along the Kootenai River in northwest Montana, is a town of about 12,000 people that for years was deeply tied to the W.R. Grace mine, where miners unearthed tremolite asbestos as they extracted vermiculite, a mineral used in insulation and other products.

But then people started getting sick. And not just the miners. Some of their wives, too, developed lung illnesses, exposed only to the miners and the clothing they came home in every day. So did children, many of whom played on baseball fields contaminated by tremolite.

In 1999, nine years after W.R. Grace closed the mine, the Environmental Protection Agency sent experts to study the problem. What they found astonished them.

A town was slowly dying.