EPA declares public health emergency for Libby

The EPA on Wednesday declared a public health emergency in asbestos infested Libby. It’s the first such declaration in history. Theoretically, that means Libby should finally start to see serious federal aid for cleanup and health care for the thousands of people suffering from asbestos related diseases.

More than 200 people have already died in Libby (though some believe that number is actually much higher), and nearly 2,000 more people have been diagnosed with asbestos-related health conditions, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma (funny, my spell checker doesn’t recognize mesothelioma, despite the fact that the American Cancer Society estimates that “the age-adjusted incidence of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma in the United States has been estimated at 14.2 per million per year).

You can read about the declaration in tomorrow’s Great Falls Tribune. In the meantime, you can download this audio recording (right click to download target) of today’s press conference with Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester along with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.