The Libby Asbestos Specter Looms—El Dorado Hills Development Could Disturb Natural Asbestos Deposit

Building Development Could Create Avoidable Center of Asbestos Exposure

EL DORADO HILLS, CA — March 6, 2009 — At the base of the Sierra foothills, a battle is building between residents and developers over a proposal to build 135 homes on a ridge known to have significant concentrations of naturally occurring asbestos. Local residents have lined up to fight the building proposal, the first proposal after 10 years of health warnings about building on natural asbestos deposits.

Residents are worried that construction of roads, trenches and building pads will release asbestos fibers into the air and potentially contaminate neighborhoods downwind of the construction. Asbestos contamination, and ultimately the development of asbestos diseases by unsuspecting residents, is the main concern of those opposing the new construction. Their concerns of asbestos exposure from the disturbance of natural asbestos are validated by the living specter in Libby, MT, where asbestos related diseases affect a significant portion of the population.

Residents of Libby, MT—An Example of the Dangers of Asbestos Contamination

Home to W.R. Grace's defunct vermiculite mine that produced Zonolite vermiculite insulation, Libby is an example of the effects asbestos contamination can have on a community. Tailings from the mine, left in large piles accessible to the public, were used in gardens at private residences. The local high school track surface was built with crushed vermiculite. Employees of W.R. Grace, often covered in dust containing asbestos, unknowingly exposed family members that were never near the mine.

With this rampant exposure, asbestos related diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma have claimed the lives of hundreds of Libby's citizens. There are currently another 1,800 patients at the Center for Asbestos Related Disease diagnosed with asbestos related diseases.

Despite being designated as an EPA Superfund cleanup site in 2002 because of asbestos contamination, the clean–up process does little for those already exposed to asbestos. With a latency period of 10–40 years, Libby residents exposed to asbestos unfortunately could continue to develop asbestos diseases well into the future.

Despite Modern Asbestos Monitoring—Is Building Worth the Risk?

Left undisturbed, the asbestos buried within the rock of El Dorado Hills poses little danger to anyone. The effectiveness of county required asbestos monitoring and dust controls work well for the demolishing of buildings; but have not been studied on construction sites, according to Jack Momperler, an air pollution official who enforces the asbestos controls at work sites in Sacramento County.

For residents of the Oak Ridge development, where the construction is planned, the potential health risks are too great. Those opposing the project said, "they would have no quarrel with the development but for the asbestos," which they believe would escape the job site no matter how stringent the dust control.

More Information on Asbestos in El Dorado Hills:

  • Government Report Confirms Asbestos in El Dorado Hills, CA (January, 2007)
  • EPA Performing Asbestos Tests in El Dorado Hills, California (October, 2004)

Asbestos Criminal Trial—Libby, MT

  • Opening Statements Agree—Libby Suffered From Mine Operation (February, 2009)
  • W.R. Grace to Pay $250 million for Asbestos Cleanup in Libby, Montana(March, 2008)

Protecting Your Legal Rights

If you have been exposed to asbestos and developed an asbestos-related disease, an asbestos attorney can assist you in protecting your legal rights. For over 25 years, the asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys at Brayton Purcell have represented injured individuals and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits from asbestos-related diseases.