|07-26-2006, 07:33 PM||#1|
Angling in the Deep
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Texas Riviera, Southern Mountains
W.R. Grace an American Disgrace
Short story, this company knowingly killed hundreds of people in Libby Montana and people there continue and will continue to die for years to come. When they bought the mine in 1963 Grace officials already knew asbestos caused disease and death but hid that fact from it's workers and their families and friends for over 20 years, all the while exposing the entire town and anyone who came anywhere close to the Libby vicinity.
Vermiculite was stored in windblown piles in and around town in numerous places. It only takes one 10 micron fiber, inhaled in the lungs, to kill a person.
Even today Grace denies they conspired to conceal the dangers of asbestos exposure even though mountains of documents prove otherwise.
Grace was valued over 5 billion dollars in 1996 and divested, dispersed and otherwise diverted company revenues to claim they were bankrupt in order to avoid any future compensation for the hundreds of people they had knowingly killed and inflicted with asbestos related diseases.
The town today still has residents who are flying the American flag upside down (a sign of distress and help needed). Schools, the skate rink, playgrounds and many other places have been contaminated with asbestos. Gardens, lawns, homes, etc... are contaminated throughout town.
Now, W.R. Grace officials (Grace and seven others) have finally been charged in federal grand-jury indictments. But the legal wrangling has delayed it once already.
A horrible commentary on corporate America using, abusing and knowingly destroying it's employees for one thing only...money.
The documentary 'Libby, Montana' explains this American tragedy better than I could ever attempt to.
Lawyers don’t want residents to testify in W.R. Grace case
By The Associated Press - 07/22/06
MISSOULA (AP) — Allowing Libby residents with lung disease caused by asbestos exposure to testify in the case against W.R. Grace & Co. would risk ‘‘extraordinary prejudice’’ to jurors, an attorney for one of the defendants argued Thursday.
‘‘The government wants to put these people in front of a jury for a dramatic impact that will turn this case into a murder trial,’’ said Mark Holscher, who represents Jack Wolter, former vice president and general manager of the mine’s Construction Products Division.
Holscher and other defense attorneys debated a joint motion Thursday to exclude the testimony of ‘‘victim witnesses’’ at the upcoming trial. The motion was among dozens slated for oral argument this week.
The motion attempts to poke holes in the government’s case by prohibiting prosecutors from ‘‘parading in 40 witnesses, many with demonstrable illnesses, on oxygen and confined to wheelchairs, and who will tell heart-rendering stories,’’ said one attorney for W.R. Grace, Scott McMillin.
Prosecutors argue that testimony of sick witnesses is crucial to their case because it shows Libby residents were in ‘‘imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.’’
‘‘This is a knowing endangerment case,’’ prosecuting attorney Kevin Cassidy said. ‘‘It may not be a murder case, but it’s more than just a conspiracy case.’’
Grace and seven high-ranking employees pleaded not guilty Wednesday, for the second time, to charges that they tried to conceal the health risks of the company’s vermiculite mine in Libby.
The company and top executives initially were charged in February 2005. The indictment charged that the mine, which closed in 1990, released dangerous, cancer-causing asbestos into the air for decades and, in doing so, knowingly endangered its workers and residents of Libby.
The vermiculite was contaminated with tremolite asbestos.
Asbestos released into the air from the mine is blamed by some health authorities for killing about 200 people and sickening hundreds more.
After a federal judge dismissed part of the government’s case because of a statute of limitations technicality, a federal grand jury last month returned a new indictment that revises certain allegations.
In the latest indictment, prosecutors allege that the company, in the midst of an investigation led by the Environmental Protection Agency, concealed known hazards posed by the now-defunct vermiculite mine. The indictment contends that as a result of those delays, the mine continued to release asbestos into Libby’s air.
August 8, 1956
"The asbestos dust in the [vermiculite] dust in the air is of considerable toxicity....The asbestos fibers ... stimulate the formation of a diffuse fibrosis... As the fibrosis increases, the reduction in lung area causes a serious decrease in lung capacity, or difficulty in breathing." Montana State Board of Health Report On Industrial Hygiene Study of Zonolite Plant in Libby, Montana. The State advised management to reduce the high concentrations of asbestos dust in dry mill where the vermiculite ore was processed.
July 20, 1959
Results of Chest X-Ray Examinations of 130 Zonolite mill/mine workers: Number with normal chests -- 82 Number with abnormal chests -- 48 (36%)
May 11, 1964
"A study was made of the dry mill of the Zonolite Mill at Libby to determine if compliance with previous recommendations regarding dust control has been achieved...The rafters were heavily loaded with dust. High dust count concentrations were due to dust falling off the rafters....'Asbestos exposure in industry will not be limited to the craft that utilizes the material. The floating fibers do not respect job classifications...' There is some serious potential of the development of disease if [the asbestos dust] is not properly controlled." Montana Division of Disease Control to Zonolite Company, advising the company to implement housecleaning measures, fans, ventilation, and design changes at the plant to reduce the asbestos dust hazard.
January 2, 1965
"Regarding review of inspection reports from Montana State Board of Health: In going over these reports, I can only say that it presents a very sorry record." Internal Memorandum, Zonolite Headquarters to Libby Plant.
January 13, 1965
"There may be a long term problem with some of our employees at Libby....Asbestos has a known record for harmfulness." Grace Inter Office Memorandum
January 5, 1968
"Threshold Limit Values for asbestos should be used as guides in the control of health hazards and should not be regarded as fine lines between safe and dangerous concentrations. Internal Memorandum regarding Dust Controls.
March 11, 1969
"I think it would be well at this time, with the advice of counsel, to consider applying a warning label on all containers of products containing vermiculite. This may aid in our defense of products liability claims." Internal Memorandum
July 24, 1969
"The dust problem [at the Libby Plant] is particularly serious since the vermiculite ore from Libby contains tremolite asbestos. ... Tremolite asbestos is a definite health hazard ...." Confidential Internal Report to Peter Grace
November 14, 1969
"The potential problem with Mono Kote (fireproofing] is at the plaster mixer. There is sufficient asbestos in Mono Kote to be harmful to mixer men." W.R. Grace Memo to Branch Managers
November 28, 1969
"Dr. Irving Selikoff, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, spoke at the CPLIA Convention... He leveled very serious charges about the definite danger created by the use of sprayed fiber fireproofing. He outlined the medical facts about Asbestosis, lung cancer and a rare cancer of the chest wall and lining of the stomach among asbestos workers. Since it takes 15 to 20 years to kill, the danger has been hidden until now. He then turned to sprayed fiber fireproofing in New York, showing the unchecked "snow" throughout the downtown area. Special note was made of the World Trade Center. Selikoff stated they estimate 100 tons of fiber will be airborne in New York from this job. He closed by stating the work practice was the worst he could imagine and from his observations not one man spraying fiber today would be alive in 20 years. The officials of the international unions were there along with contractors and I know it landed like a bomb."
June 1, 1970
"Stay unscrupulous, unethical, mean and selling Mono Kote" W.R. Grace Letter to Regional Monokote Salesmen.
October 23, 1991
On October 23, 1991 in Dallas, Texas, Roger Worthington took the deposition of 70 year old Robert Junker. Mr. Junker, was a 31 year manager, plant manager and plant supervisor for the Zonolite Company/Texas Vermiculite/W.R. Grace plant in Dallas.
Mr. Worthington: Were there residential homes surrounding the plant?
Mr. Junker: Yeah. Some little Mexican homes, you know, with outhouses, that type of home.
Mr. Worthington: any of the people living around the plant ever complain to you or anyone else about dust levels coming from the plant?
Mr. Junker: Yeah.
Mr. Worthington: Prior to 1973, Mr. Junker, did you ever specifically advise any of the employees at the plant to avoid asbestos dust?
Mr. Junker: Prior to '73, no.
Mr. Worthington: you understand there may be a health problem association with asbestos exposure?
Mr. Junker: I had some inklings
Mr. Worthington: you ever discuss that notion or inkling with your employees?
Mr. Junker: No
Mr. Worthington: And can you just please tell me why you didn't do that?
Mr. Junker: Because I wanted them all to croak, that's why!....
Because I didn't want to cause a lot of uproar... You can't go out to a black -- a couple of black men on the line and tell them that they are going to die tomorrow from asbestos breathing and expect them to even come into the plant tomorrow, and you know it, or if you don't, you should. You just don't do it.
Mr. Worthington: you know if you or your boss sent a letter out to the owners of the building and schools and hospitals? (that were sold products to)?
Mr. Junker: What would be the reason for that? We would have everybody and his uncle trying to find out if they could sue us. That would be asking for -- that would be murder.
Mr. Worthington: you understand that in the 1950s, 60s and 70s that vermiculite from Libby, Montana had a form of asbestos in the ore?
Mr. Junker: Yes.. Yes, we did. We knew it. We found out about if from Grace...Grace told us there was a certain amount of asbestos in vermiculite.
Mr. Worthington: you believe a company who makes a dangerous product has a duty to warn consumers about potential health risks?
Mr. Junker: Yes, I think if it's a hazard to your health, it probably does have...but what can you do about these things? ...to tell the public about a potential hazard -- is kind of asinine, I think.
Mr. Worthington: It's bad for business?
Mr. Junker: Yeah, it's bad for business.
Last edited by Bronco_Beerslug; 07-26-2006 at 07:36 PM..