State and federal officials announced in Northern Vermont that a cleanup of the hazardous waste from the Belvidere Mountain asbestos mine located in Lowell and Eden (operated for nearly a century in Vermont) will cost over 200 million dollars. Although the mine has not been in operation for many years, there still remain piles of waste rock that contain asbestos, placing residents in nearby areas at risk for developing asbestos related-illnesses and the painful asbestos cancer known as mesothelioma.
The Vermont Health Department has already identified that residents living near the mine are experiencing higher rates of lung cancer and asbestosis. Asbestos-related illnesses can remain latent for 20-50 years, and the rates of lung cancer incidences are likely to continue to grow.
Vermont Assistant Attorney General John Beling remains hopeful that the funding for the cleanup will come from charges being pressed against the Vermont Asbestos Group, but representatives of the asbestos group state that the company does not have the appropriate funds or assets to cover those costs. In addition, the Vermont Assistant Attorney General is looking to another previous asbestos mine owner, G-1 Holdings, to recover the costs of the cleanup as well. G-1 Holdings is currently in bankruptcy. Although Beling realizes that they will not recover 100% of the over $200 million needed, they will get as much as they can to aid cleanup efforts.
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency spent almost $2 million last year in the area to stop waste minerals from damaging nearby streams and wetlands. The EPA is still deciding if the Belvidere Mountain asbestos mine should be added to the government’s Superfund list, which would make federal money and support available for the cleanup.