Eden, Vermont – A former northern Vermont asbestos mine owner has reached a settlement with the state. As part of the deal, the mine has to help pay for the expenses of certain pollution controls.
Additionally, Vermont Asbestos Group will pursue $3.5m in insurance money which would help pay for the operation and maintenance of pollution control activities at the old mines in Lowell and Eden.
Court papers show that the company is going to pay $50000 to the Vermont state over the coming 10 years, reserved from the likely insurance money. Court documents also say that the settling defendant should not use that site or any other such property in a way that the state or the EPA determines would pose a risk to the environment or human health because of exposure to waste material (asbestos).
The mine, which located on nearly 1500 acres along the Belvidere Mountain, operated in Lowell and Eden for at least 8 decades. Asbestos is a mineral used in a number of applications such as roofing tiles, floor tiles, insulation, automobile brake pads, clutches etc.
The mine was closed in year 1993 after it was determined by scientists that asbestos fibers had caused cancer as they became airborne. When the mine was closed, 30 tons of debris or trails containing hazardous asbestos were left behind.
Some of those tailings has been washed by rainwater into 2 adjacent brooks and contaminated the wetlands. The total cleanup cost for the site estimated by the state is $250 million. However, the state’s plan to declare the land as a Superfund site was rejected in Eden and Lowell by voters in year 2012.
John Schmeltzer, an analyst with the waste division of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, said that the settlement agreement won’t resolve the long-term environmental issues of the mine. However, it is the first step, he said.
Schmeltzer said they do not know what amount of money they will get from the insurance policies. Anyway, Schmeltzer says, that money is not going to be enough for generating a long-term solution.
Vermont Asbestos Group should keep the site under the supervision of a project manager, as per the settlement agreement. Schmeltzer said they had met every responsibility they had been asked to do until then.
Asbestos is a human carcinogen. Regular exposure to asbestos fibers could result in diseases including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.