andrew schneider investigates

April 29, 2009

An organization for government environmental workers say a report from EPA’s IG criticizes the agency’s cleanup of asbestos in Libby.

Filed under: Asbestos,EPA,W.R. Grace — Andrew Schneider @ 11:03

It’s a bit bizarre to me to be sitting in the back row of a Montana courtroom listening to another day of testimony in the criminal trial of W.R. Grace, while at the same time writing about reported cleanup problems of the lethal mess the same company made in the town of Libby.

Just to keep people (including me) from becoming confused, let me stress that this has nothing to do with the charges against Grace.

Nevertheless, here’s what Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility had to say today about the investigation in 2006 by EPA’s inspector general’s office.

The IG said epa-logoit found no need for criminal action after its review of the cleanup, but PEER, a union-like organization that sued to get a report on investigation made public, said there were “critical deficiencies” in the agency’s actions.

The suit prompted the release yesterday of the of a 2006 investigation by IG Special Agent Cory Rumple.

Rumple was looking into allegations of public health concerns about the methods employed by EPA to remove asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from homes within Libby.

Accord to PEER, problems found by Rumple included:

·      A thorough “disconnect between scientists and the agency” over how to conduct the clean-up; distribution of “exceptionally deceiving” public health information to Libby residents and fighting within the EPA that led to “dysfunctional decisions and resignations of key specialists.

Because of the ongoing Grace trial, none of the EPA people that I called for comment who were involved in the cleanup were permitted to talk, though some were eager.

PEER Executive Jeff Ruch says the IG report “raises more questions than it answers, including why it was hidden from the public.”

Rumple’s clear conclusion in his report that the Libby problems did not constitute criminal violations, the IG nevertheless launched a 21-month-long criminal investigation which resulted in the Justice Department declining to bring any charges.

“As a result of the Inspector General pursuing a fruitless criminal inquiry, today we still do not have a clear idea of whether the Libby clean-up is protective of the public,” Ruch added.

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1 Comment »

  1. One of the reasons the “Rumpole Report” was not released to the public should be answered by Cory Rumple. The report was obviously at the staff level and did not represent any final agency decision. With a disclaimer stating just that just to avoid confusion, or even without one, any EPA staff person is free to distribute their reports prepared in their official capacity, even when on EPA lettead.

    This is a fact I have documented with long and continued correspondence with EPA’s Office of Government Ethics.

    Remember General Petraeus in full dress uniform before the Senate. He stated that none of his testimony had been prior reviewed or approved by the U.S. military, Department of Defense, White House, etc. and that it represented only his own professional judgement.

    Comment by Cate Jenkins — April 30, 2009 @ 03:56 | Reply


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