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U.S. Government Sues Small Montana Town Over Asbestos in Water

By | Apr 25, 2018 | Firm News

The U.S. Department of Justice sued the water and sewer department for the small Montana town of Jackson after asbestos, arsenic, pesticides, and radium were found in the water. Specific charges include contamination, failure to monitor, and failure to provide public notice after the harmful substances were found (Dunlap, 2018).

Issues of Contamination

Beaverhead County Commissioner, Mike McGinley, says the suit came as the town was about the fix the issue that caused the contamination. The town received a grant within the last year to begin fixing the town’s water system. It was also awarded a federal community development block grant to be put towards improvements. Renovations will begin this summer to drill three new wells for the town in hopes of getting rid of the contaminants.

Involvement with Department of Environmental Quality

The issues were originally discovered in 2005 when the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) notified the water district of new arsenic standards, which it failed to meet. In 2008, the DEQ gave the town an exemption in order for them to hire a consultant to find a solution for the contaminated waters. Presently, tests of the water still exceed the standards for these toxic substances.

Who does groundwater become contaminated with asbestos?

The EPA has concluded that asbestos is a common contaminant of domestic water supplies (EPA, 1992); they estimate that 95% of water consumers are exposed to asbestos fibers through their water supply. Asbestos can enter the water through natural erosion of mineral deposits, thereby entering the groundwater. Asbestos can also contaminate water through mining runoff, improper disposal of asbestos, and deterioration of asbestos-containing pipes.

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