One of the world’s largest asbestos mines has been ordered to pay more than $3.3 million to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for leaving 30 million tons of asbestos on the side of a Vermont mountain. Though the mine closed in 1993, piles of asbestos still remain. According to News & Citizen, “a century of operation left a scar on the side of Belvidere Mountain that can be seen for miles — a gray mound on the otherwise vegetation-covered slope.”
The state government tried for years to deal with the hazards of “huge piles of asbestos tailings” that could be carried to nearby watersheds in water runoff. Recently, “the federal Environmental Protection Agency jumped in, constructing waterbars, diversion trenches, berms and culverts to contain the dangerous materials.” Years later, “the EPA was called back to address a deteriorating storage building filled with dry asbestos ore.” Shortly after, a settlement was reached between Vermont Asbestos Group, the state, and the EPA.
The Group was ordered to pay $3,360,082.60 to the EPA, $174,620 to the state for its costs, and $50,000 cash over the next decade to cover existing erosion mitigation measures and security for the mine. Today, the Group has plans to “pack up the materials and truck asbestos nearly 100 miles to Groveton, NH — a plan the EPA is on board with.”
Per News & Citizen, the removal process, including 30 million tons of asbestos, will happen via “a single daily shift of eight to 10 hours six days per week, sending 15 to 17 trucks per day to Groveton from May through November until all the material has been removed.” The asbestos tailings “will be wetted 10 to 15 percent to prevent dust during extraction, and once loaded onto each truck, the tailings will not see the light of day again,” as they will be unloaded in a closed facility for processing.
Though all plans are tentative—approval is needed and the NH facility hasn’t even been built yet—the Group is optimistic. After all asbestos has been removed, the mine land can be reclaimed. Group owner Howard Manosh thinks the location would be ideal for a solar array—an idea he looked into “a few years ago.”
So far, financing has been arranged, and both the state and the EPA have endorsed Manosh’s plans. “The Lowell Select Board unanimously agreed to sign a letter of support for the mine cleanup on July 25, 2017 and Eden followed suit at a meeting held on August 14, 2017,” reports News & Citizen.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Asbestos is the only known cause of an aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma. Though there is no cure for the disease, early detection could increase treatment options and improve outcomes.
Collier, Kayla. "30 Million Tons of Asbestos Leftovers: Cleanup Plan for Eden-Lowell Mine: 15 Truckloads per Day to N.H. Plant." News & Citizen, StoweToday.com. Stowe Reporter, 17 Aug. 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.