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December 19, 2011

Asbestos in Arkansas: Found in Dixie, residents may be entitled to medical monitoring

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found asbestos contamination in the North Little Rock, Ark. community of Dixie, where a vermiculite-processing facility operated for nearly four decades. Officials believe the substance originated from a mine in Libby, Mont.

Vermiculite is a mineral substance that is frequently used as an insulator. W.R. Grace & Company mined asbestos-tainted vermiculite near Libby to make residential insulation until 1990. Now, the area is one of the largest contaminated sites in the nation's history. An estimated 400 people have died and 1,750 were sickened by the asbestos dust released from the vermiculite mine. Additionally, the EPA has spent an estimated $370 million in the past 11 years attempting to clean up the city of Libby.

In Arkansas, the EPA is testing Conley Park and the former North Little Rock Auto Salvage yard for asbestos. The North Little Rock Salvage site is not an operating business anymore, but from 1953 to 1989, it was a vermiculite-processing facility. According to the EPA, asbestos contamination has been found both on-site and off-site.

The consequences of inhaling asbestos fibers are well-documented. For almost a century, inhaling asbestos fibers has been associated with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and several other asbestos-related diseases, many fatal and debilitating. Diseases caused by asbestos exposure generally take several decades to materialize. It can take even longer for the disease's true extent or severity to become clear.

"The residents of North Little Rock may be entitled to medical monitoring or other relief.  A medical monitoring cause of action allows those exposed to toxic substances to recover the costs of periodic medical appointments and the costs of tests to detect the early signs of diseases associated with exposure," said asbestos lawyer Chris Swett.

Motley Rice mesothelioma lawyers represent victims and family members who have contracted mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases through asbestos exposure and fight for compensation and accountability on their behalf against companies that manufactured, distributed or supplied asbestos-containing products.