LATAG Meeting Minutes

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July 10th, 2012

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Regular Board Meeting

Libby Area Technical Assistance Group, Inc.

PO Box 53 • Libby, MT 59923

July 10th, 2012 • Regular Board Meeting Minutes

  1. The meeting was called to order at 6:15 PM 
  2. Introductions were made around the room. LATAG did not have a quorum, but in attendance were:
  • Mike Noble, LATAG Chair
  • JoElyn Brus, LATAG Treasurer
  • Eileen Carney, LATAG Secretary
  • Karen Horton, LATAG Ad Hoc
  • Tracy McNew, LATAG GA
  • Nick Raines, Lincoln Co. Environmental Health
  • Sarah Seitz, Trihydro
  • Tam Smith, Trihydro
  • Bob Medler, Remedium
  • Victor Ketellapper, EPA
  • Liz Fagan, EPA
  • Christina Progess, EPA
  • John Podolinsky, MT DEQ 

3. EPA/ DEQ Report

  • OU1-Riverfront Park work has been completed by EPA and handed over to the city. A post construction risk assessment will take place next year.
  • OU2- Screening plant- O&M plan will be out soon. ABS will take place this summer for post-construction risk assessment.
  • OU3- Mine- Human health and ecological risk assessment continues with surface water sampling on Rainy Creek and the Kootenai River at both high and low water. Fall ABS will be done on Zonolite island if the water level drops. These ABS results will help evaluate risk of sediment disruption in high use areas. Ecological risk assessment study on caged fish has been completed because lab toxicity testing failed as fibers could not be kept in suspension. Amphibian toxicity test will be done in a lab in August or September. ABS to evaluate exposure to commercial loggers will also be conducted this fall; Remedium will conduct the work. Remedium is also doing excavation downstream of the mine amphitheater to remove tailings material from the Rainy Creek flood plain. The material is being taken to the mine itself in hopes that this will reduce surface water asbestos concentrations see in Rainy Creek. The soil will be spread out to cover exposed material along with soil removed from OU4 and the area will be re-vegetated at the end of the construction season.      
  • OU4- Libby- ABS on commercial logging activities will be conducted at Flower Creek. Crews were off around the 4th of July to avoid disruption of festivities. 58 properties have been completed to date, and over 100 are expected to be completed this construction season. Currently work is being done in mobile home parks using the neighborhood approach. Victor clarified a question about putting properties on hold. He stated that there have been complaints of vermiculite in flower beds at a few specific properties. Decision on these sites is pending for risk assessment as vermiculite may not be from LA. EPA feels the risk on those properties is very low and no final decision has been made at this time about whether clean-up will continue. Work continues on a plan to monitor ambient air during structure fires. Nature and extent sampling of surface water in Kootenai and its large tributaries is being done in high and low flow to assess contamination in waters. Nature and extent sampling is also happening at 50 other locations around the forest of the Libby valley to assess level of background contamination. An elk and a deer from the mine site will be collected and their tissue will be assessed for LA fibers, tissue of fish from the tailings pond will also be assessed. A comparative exposure assessment continues of Eureka, Helena, and White Fish. This is being conducted on bark, duff, soil and ABS on forest service lands; these results will be compared to Libby. Work continues on assessing any exposure to burning wood collected in the Libby valley for heating purposes.  
  • OU5- Studies and final reports are being held off until final toxicity values are available. Small amounts of cleanup work around the proposed kids fishing pond are being done. There may also need to be some interior cleaning. In front of the CDM building they’ve got test plots of soil for community to examine.
  • OU6- Railroad. EPA is developing a unilateral order for BNSF. They are not volunteering to do the work on their own and have asked for this order to do the remedial investigation soon.
  • OU7- Troy & DEQ update. A town meeting was held in Troy on June 13 with approximately 40 people in attendance of which ~17 were non project related. Institutional controls, current issues and project update were discussed. Tetra Tech is working on 8 task orders including property evaluation, removal investigations, community involvement, U-Dig program, quilt guild drilled holes in gymnasium and so they were filled because the wall has asbestos. A sampling and analysis plan is being put together to do indoor ABS. Wood waste piles at landfills were sampled prior to county grinding them, results are still pending. Sampling is being conducted of gravel pits for nature and extent in and around Troy where other types of asbestos may be found. Troy seems to be exhibiting a higher ambient air level of asbestos fibers than Libby so they are looking at possible reasons for this. JoElyn asked about the Troy mine using a smelting plant in Helena as a possible source of Troy contamination.    
  • Site wide- SAB’s final report of LAA toxicity value is anticipated in October. Jim Martin will be in town this week and meeting with a number of locals. Our TAG grant amendment was approved and will be funded. Victor asked about the new technical advisors, Tony Ward and Steve Auckerland. It was explained that LATAG requested 2 TAs based on two different areas of expertise. At this time, it is expected that Steve will be primary and Tony will be secondary. Last month’s CAG meeting went really well and was productive. CAG and TAG are still testing the waters about joint meetings every other month. EPA offered to help get the new TAs up to speed once on board, we can do this by contacting Victor or Libby.

4. W R Grace Report - current sampling of amphibians at different life stages are being conducted at some reference ponds and onsite at the mine. This is in addition to the lab study to expand the data available for analysis. Lab amphibian studies will be related to sediment vs. suspended fibers in the water because the fibers cling to particles and glass of the tanks. Karen asked about latency of asbestos disease in animals related to their short lifespan. EPA answered that duration, mechanism, and extent of exposure are also variables. The idea is to evaluate if they have a higher risk than humans at any life stage, etc.

5. Lincoln County Environmental Health Report - The newly formed Asbestos Resource Program (ARP) has conducted a review of all administrative rules already in place to assess what could be adapted for future institutional control measures. Currently they are reviewing all of EPA’s ABS data to characterize which activities have the highest potential risk and need to be focused on. A survey is being conducted to see what is on everyone’s mind. It is available online at along with other pertinent information. They would be interested in putting an article in the TAG newsletter regarding ARP.

6. Open Discussion Items:

An e-board meeting was set up for Friday, July20th at noon. The meeting will be at the LATAG office at noon and Mike will bring pizza. The following topics were discussed and will be addressed during the next regular board meeting or during the e-board meeting as appropriate:

  1. Tracy to resign or cut to minimal hours- waiting on Linda A. to advise. Bruce Zwang issued a letter stating willingness and approximate cost of taking over the financials.
  2. Our web master contract is about to expire- renew?
  3. Meeting attendance should be addressed as we have not had a quorum for the past 3 meetings- how to proceed? Mike suggested that letters be written, and/ or reminder calls be made prior to meetings. It was also suggested that ads be placed in local newspapers for more board members.
  4. LATAG grant renewal requires budget redo. Follow-up with Linda A is necessary as Victor stated that he approved it already.
  5. EPA has approved two TAs. Mike spoke with Steve but is waiting to hear from Tony W. Contracts are needed; previous TA contracts are available electronically to use for reference/ templates.
  6. A LATAG newsletter template is needed and then articles can be added quarterly.


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