U.S. GAO - Hazardous Materials: EPA’s Assessment of Sites That May Have Received Asbestos-Contaminated Ore from Libby, Montana (GAO-09-7SP, March 2009), an E-supplement to GAO-09-6R

Hazardous Materials: EPA’s Assessment of Sites That May Have Received Asbestos-Contaminated Ore from Libby, Montana (GAO-09-7SP, March 2009), an E-supplement to GAO-09-6R

Virginia Vermiculite Mine, 14093 Louisa Road, Louisa, Virginia
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EPA
Region
Location of facility Type of facility Amount
of ore
received
(in tons)
Did
EPA
visit
the
site?
Were
samples
taken?
Results of
evaluation
3 14093 Louisa Road, Louisa, Virginia Vermiculite mine Unknown Yes-October 11, 2000 Yes This mine started operating in 1979 and was still in operation at the time of EPA's investigation. EPA investigated the Virginia Vermiculite site because it was the source of vermiculite ore for the LaFarge Gypsum Corporation (LaFarge is listed separately in this database). EPA found historical data collected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) indicating that vermiculite ore from Virginia Vermiculite did not contain detectable levels of asbestos. However, EPA found that air and soil samples collected by MSHA at the Virginia Vermiculite mine in August and December 2000 did contain asbestos. Virginia Vermiculite questioned the validity of MSHA's sampling results. In December 2000 and January 2001, EPA was in contact with MSHA, monitoring MSHA's sampling efforts and offering assistance. Although EPA's records indicated EPA expected to receive sampling data from MSHA, the records do not indicate EPA received any data. EPA collected six dust and soil samples from residential properties and waste disposal locations outside the boundaries of the mine property. None of these samples contained detectable levels of asbestos. The samples were analyzed using polarized light microscopy (PLM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). EPA has no plans to follow-up on MSHA’s sampling efforts or take further action at this site. GAO contacted MSHA to determine the status of their investigation of this mine. MSHA reported that, as a result of its investigation in October 2000, the mine operator was cited twice for violations of mandatory standards because of unsafe control of on-site asbestos contamination (NOT for miners' exposures to asbestos fiber air concentrations exceeding the allowable permissible exposure limit). MSHA and the operator negotiated an agreement to address the citations and signed a written contract in February 2001 that abated the citations. The agreement required the operator to implement additional provisions to improve health protection for miners and to safely manage asbestos on the property, i.e., providing miners with respirators and climate controlled mobile equipment cabs.

GAO-09-6R