Last month we told you about the Belvidere Mountain asbestos mines. State officials in Vermont have called a meeting with residents to discuss the issues and concerns generated from recent studies into the areas surrounding a proposed cleanup of the Belvidere Mountain asbestos mine located in Lowell and Eden. The mine operated for close to a century, and areas of waste rock still remain. The Vermont Department of Health conducted research to determine if exposure to asbestos was creating a greater risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses for residents of the area.

Residents’ concerns were raised when officials with the Vermont Department of Health released reports in November that cases of lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis were identified as being higher for residents living close to the mine. The same Department of Health later released a report that its examination of the health records was inaccurate and included data from cities located outside of the targeted research area, but higher risks still remained for residents. The newly raised concerns have some residents questioning their children’s safety, while other residents are outraged by the allegations and are now concerned with decreasing property values due to the publicity the November reports received.

The study performed by the Department of Health was purely statistical and did not take into account other factors that may have caused residents’ exposure to asbestos in the area. In fact, the report only identified deaths of former miners of the area. The Vermont Department of Health continues to believe that there is evidence of increased risk to residents and families who worked in the mines or currently visit the mines to do hiking or participate in other activities.

The Department of Health hopes to answer all of the its residents’ questions and hear their concerns during the Monday and Tuesday night meetings being held at the Eden Central School and Lowell Graded School respectively. Most of all, department officials want residents to understand the importance of staying away from the mine area.