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EPA to Re-Evaluate Factory Sites

The EPA is set to re-examine hundreds of sites where factories once processed vermiculite ore. The new round of testing came as a response to a highly critical report filed by the Government Accountability Office.

The report chided the EPA for their assessment of numerous sites where the asbestos containing ore was processed. The assessment claimed that testing at those sites was inadequate and contained numerous errors.

The main issue was the one percent rule that is the basis of whether or not the EPA will conduct an environmental cleanup. If a soil sample returns with a concentration greater than one percent the EPA will request a cleanup but the agency has never established the toxicity of some forms of asbestos that could pose a risk at a lower quantity.

The major problem, according to the report, is that the agency has never established toxicity for tremolite asbestos found in vermiculite ore from Libby, Montana.

The agency also agreed to address concerns over community notification policies which differ significantly depending on the region.