Public Air Their Asbestos Concerns in Vermont

Fifteen years after it has been closed, the Vermont Asbestos Group Mine in Eden and Lowell still raises concerns from nearby Vermont residents about asbestos contamination. A report from the Vermont Health Department names the area as the only “cancer cluster” in the state. This denotes the site and a ten-mile radius surrounding it as showing an increased amount of lung cancers and other asbestos-related diseases. That ten-mile radius encompasses thirteen Vermont towns: Albany, Belvidere, Craftsbury, Eden, Hyde Park, Irasburg, Johnson, Lowell, Montgomery, Newport Town, Troy, Waterville, and Westfield. The level of risk was not studied for the report, but it did show a correlation between living in one of those towns and having an asbestos-related disease.

The risk of death in these towns was 12 to 13 times greater than the rest of the state, and residents faced a three-fold increase in the chance of getting an asbestos-related disease. The study examined hospital records, death certificates, and cancer registries from 1996 through 2005. Factors such as occupation or length of time in the town were not taken into account, but the report is enough to raise the concerns of those living in the region in question. To answer residents’ questions, two town hall meetings were held on December 11th and 12th, 2008. Possibilities examined for the site are to petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Superfund status or to at least have the EPA assist in the cleanup. Vermont environmental officials are seeking assistance from current and previous landowners of the site to pay for the cleanup. They want to be able to hold someone accountable for the toxic site and to spare the state the cost of a multi-million dollar cleanup. For the present, further study of the mine itself is being requested by the state.