Settlement reached in asbestos mine cleanup
The Associated Press | October 20,2013
EDEN — A settlement has been reached with the owner of a former asbestos mine in northern Vermont to help cover the costs of some pollution controls.
Vermont Asbestos Group also has agreed to pursue $3.5 million in insurance money that could help pay for maintenance and operation of pollution controls at the former mine in Eden and Lowell.
According to court papers filed last week, the company will pay $50,000 to the state of Vermont over the next 10 years, aside from the possible insurance money, the Burlington Free Press reported.
“Settling defendant shall not use the site, or such other real property, in any manner that EPA or the state determines will pose an unacceptable risk to human health or to the environment due to exposure to (asbestos) waste material,” the court document said.
The asbestos mine, located on 1,500 acres along Belvidere Mountain, operated in Eden and Lowell for more than 80 years. The substance was used in many applications, from roofing to floor tiles to insulation and brake pads.
The mine closed in 1993 after scientists determined that airborne asbestos fibers caused cancer. When it closed, it left behind 30 tons of trails or debris containing asbestos.
Rainwater has washed some of the tailings into two nearby brooks and polluted the wetlands. The state has estimated a total cleanup of the site would cost $250 million, but plans to have the land declared a Superfund site were rejected by voters in Lowell and Eden in 2012.
John Schmeltzer of the state Environmental Conservation Department said the settlement will not solve the mine’s long-term environmental problems, but is a first step.
“We don’t know what we’re going to get in money from those insurance policies,” he said. “We know we’re not going to get anything adequate to generate a long-term solution to the site.”
Vermont Asbestos Group must maintain the site under a state project manager’s supervision, according to the agreement.
“They have met all the responsibilities they’ve been asked to do so far,” Schmeltzer said.