Grace to Pay $250 Million for Asbestos Cleanup

Chemical giant W.R. Grace has agreed to pay the government $250 million to help clean up asbestos contamination around its mining operations near Libby, Mont. The fine is the largest ever ordered under the government's Superfund cleanup program.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with a record payout for asbestos poisoning.

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Chemical giant W.R. Grace has agreed to pay the federal government $250 million to help clean up contamination around its mining operations near Libby, Montana. Nine years ago, reports emerged from the tiny town that hundreds of miners and their families had been sickened and some had died from exposure to asbestos fibers from the mine. It would turn out to be one of the country's worst environmental disasters.

Federal prosecutors have charged Grace employees with knowingly exposing miners to the carcinogen. Those charges are separate from yesterday's cleanup penalty, which federal officials say is the largest ever ordered under its Superfund cleanup program. The money will be used to clean schools, homes and businesses in Libby that are contaminated with asbestos dust.

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