2/08/2005

W.R. Grace Indicted in Asbestos Deaths

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
MISSOULA, MONTANA - W.R. Grace & Co. and seven of its current or former executives have been indicted on federal charges that they knowingly put their workers and the public in danger through exposure to vermiculite ore contaminated with asbestos from the company's mine in Libby, Mont. Hundreds of miners, their family members and townsfolk have died and at least 1,200 have been sickened from exposure to the asbestos-containing ore. The health effects also threaten workers, their families and residents everywhere the ore was shipped, including Seattle, and people living in millions of homes nationwide where it was used as insulation. Yesterday, on the steps of the county courthouse here, U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer announced the 10-count indictment, alleging conspiracy, knowing endangerment, obstruction of justice and wire fraud.
"A human and environmental tragedy has occurred," he said. "This prosecution seeks to hold Grace and its executives responsible."
"This is one of the most significant criminal indictments for environmental crime in our history," said Lori Hanson, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency's environmental crime section in Denver.

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