The city of Bozeman, Montana, has taken the next step towards the cleanup of the asbestos contamination at the current Superfund site near the Bozeman Public Library. The area around the public library was once used to store and mill asbestos ore from Gallatin County and then distributed to other areas of the country. The area was used for this purpose during the first half of the twentieth century. The current proposal made by the city is actually an addendum to the Voluntary Cleanup Plan that was adopted in 2002.

After receiving the Bozeman cleanup proposal, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) began to seek out public opinions regarding the area. The new plan involves the excavation of the asbestos-contaminated soil near the library, the enforcement of proper asbestos disposal efforts at the Bozeman Landfill, proper training of city officials and employees in regard to asbestos removal and cleanup, as well as deed restrictions for properties containing asbestos. This remaining asbestos cleanup could cost as much as $438,000, a percentage of which will be reimbursed to the city by the DEQ.

These efforts will hopefully help to ensure the safety of the current and future residents of Bozeman, as exposure to asbestos has been known to cause several diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and the terminal cancer, mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure has also been known to cause gastrointestinal and colon cancers. The latency period of asbestos disease makes diagnosis of conditions such as mesothelioma difficult and often too late to start treatment.

The addendum proposed by the city will expand to properties not covered in the first Voluntary Cleanup Plan. Many of these areas are heavily contaminated with asbestos. Superfund is the federal government program designed to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, which began the Bozeman project years ago. The Montana DEQ is excited to work with the residents and city to finalize efforts for the city’s cleanup and control the asbestos exposure among residents.