116 minutes, 2007, DVCAM

Salon’s guide to what to watch on Tuesday: The illuminating P.O.V. documentary “Libby, Montana” tracks the travails of a small mining town.”
August 28, 2007

The “P.O.V.” documentary “Libby, Montana” (10 p.m. on PBS, check listings) documents the travails of a small mining town in Montana, where more than a thousand people have become sick and hundreds have died from asbestos exposure, thanks to the local vermiculite mines. In 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency started screening residents of the town for lung abnormalities, and found that the mesothelioma rate was 100 times the national average. W.R. Grace, the company that owned the mine, not only failed to warn its employees of the dangers of asbestos exposure, the EPA found that Grace concealed information about the effects of exposure from its employees. “Grace was on the school board. Grace was on the hospital board. Grace owned the bank,” Bob Wilkins, a W.R. Grace employee for over 20 years, tells the camera. “And when you talked about dust control or anything about the dust and what it was doing harmful to these people here, the first thing that come out of their mouth was, ‘You gonna close that mine down, you gonna put all those people out of work?’ You didn’t have very many friends when you started talking like that.”