On June 17, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a finding that the conditions in Libby, Montana constitute a Public Health Emergency. This is the first time in history that the EPA has issued the Public Health Emergency determination under Superfund law.
The source of contamination is the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine in Libby. The mine is contaminated with large amounts of asbestos, and as a result the residents of Libby have suffered a greatly increased rate of asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. W.R. Grace knew for many years about the asbestos contamination at its mine, but concealed those dangers from mine workers and the residents of Libby.