Governor Gianforte Announces $18.5 Million Settlement for Libby Asbestos Site
HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today announced a proposed $18.5 million settlement agreement that resolves the remainder of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s claims in W.R. Grace & Co.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case for the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site in Lincoln County.
“After years of negotiation following Grace’s historic damage, Libby and communities in Lincoln County can more fully recover,” Governor Gianforte said. “I look forward to the positive impact this settlement can bring to the people of Libby and Lincoln County.”
Filed today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, the proposed settlement would require Grace to pay $18.5 million to resolve the State’s natural resource damage claims.
The Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, on behalf of the Governor, would receive the $18.5 million plus interest over ten years, with the first $5 million due within six months of entry of the settlement agreement. The funds would be used to restore, replace, or rehabilitate injured natural resources in the Lincoln County area, and related costs.
“On behalf of the Governor, the Natural Resource Damage Program looks forward to engaging with the local community to identify and implement restoration projects that address the injuries left by Grace’s activities. These projects will provide tangible environmental benefits and be a meaningful investment into the future of Libby and Lincoln County”, said Harley Harris, Program Manager for the Natural Resource Damage Program.
The proposed settlement would resolve the natural resource damage liability of Grace and other affiliated companies to the State of Montana for the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site.
The settlement would also resolve Grace’s liabilities to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding hazardous or harmful substances, with certain limited exceptions.
The site was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities (superfund) list in 2002 due to asbestos contamination that resulted from the vermiculite mine and mill operated by Grace.
This settlement would not affect Grace’s requirements to continue to perform superfund work, subject to EPA oversight with DEQ consultation, nor would it affect Grace’s obligations under the Montana Dam Safety Act or the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s regulatory powers.
Under the settlement, Grace would additionally provide the State of Montana with financial assurance for the operation and maintenance of the Kootenai Development Impoundment Dam for the next 100 years.
The State of Montana is accepting comments on the proposed settlement until February 13, 2023. The State has reserved the right to withdraw or withhold its consent to the Settlement Agreement if comments received disclose facts or considerations that indicate the Settlement Agreement is inappropriate, improper, or inadequate. Comments can be submitted electronically or by mail. To view the settlement agreement or to learn more about how to submit comments please visit: https://dojmt.gov/lands/notices-of-public-comment.