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Montana officials discuss proposed Libby asbestos site settlement

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Posted at 2:01 PM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 11:32:57-05

LIBBY - State officials are looking for public comment regarding an $18.5 million settlement for the Libby asbestos site that has been proposed by Gov. Greg Gianforte.

The funds would be used to help restore or rehabilitate injured natural resources in the Lincoln County area as a result of the W.R. Grace mine, which closed in 1990.

Once the public comment period closes on Feb. 13, 2023, the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will review them to make sure the proposal should be entered by the court.

A judge will also evaluate the comments to see if the public believes the settlement is fair and reasonable.

"Specifically on the natural resources part of this, there's a great opportunity to implement some restoration action so we'll have a lot of value for Lincoln County and the surrounding areas. At other sites, we have implemented recreational projects such as fishing access sites, trails, or parks to make up for the inability to use the lost resources at the site," explained NRDP Assistant Attorney General Katherine Hausrath. "And so that's one type of restoration action that could be implemented there. There's a lot of opportunity to restore the natural resources and do a lot of good for the community."

If the proposal passes, the first payment would be expected within six months.

“Although the governor is the trustee and is the one actually settling this these are all of our resources; I mean the state of Montana, we live here because it's a beautiful place to live with wonderful resources with, you know, beautiful waters and, you know, lots of opportunities to recreate and so this is an opportunity to make the people of Montana, closer to whole from some of the damages that have occurred," Hausrath told MTN News. "This is a good opportunity for the governor to work on behalf of the people in Montana to implement some restoration that will benefit the people of Lincoln County and the rest of the state too because we all we all benefit when resources are restored here in Montana.”

Click here to visit the Montana Department of Justice website for more information and a fact sheet about the settlement.