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Grace documents will be quarantined
Grace documents will be quarantined

Associated Press Asbestos fibers found on documents

SEATTLE (AP) - W.R. Grace and Co. says documents dealing with asbestos contamination at its Libby mine - and apparently contaminated themselves with asbestos fibers - will be isolated at a lawyer's office.

"Until we know what this means, the boxes will be quarantined" at the law office, Grace Vice President William Corcoran told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency requested records outlining the locations across the United States that Grace had shipped its Libby vermiculite ore. Earlier this month Grace delivered a half-dozen boxes to a law firm in Boulder, Colo.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reported last week that investigators noticed the boxes were covered in dust. Out of concern and curiosity, the EPA tested the dust for asbestos content before allowing anyone to sift through the papers.

EPA on-site coordinator Paul Peronard confirmed that two of the boxes sampled contained tremolite asbestos - the same mineral found in Libby that has allegedly made hundreds of residents sick and killed at least 192.

Now the EPA is scrambling to find a way to clean the documents before anyone can scrutinize their content.

In November, newspapers reported that 192 people had died and 375 more had been diagnosed with fatal diseases stemming from asbestos exposure during more than 60 years of vermiculite mining and packaging in and around Libby. Since the report, additional victims have contacted health authorities to report asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and other problems.

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