Libby, Montana (asbestos)

Libby, Montana is a documentary about WR Grace, a US multi-national corporation that knowingly exposed a trusting community of workers and their families to asbestos, then shifted billions in assets to avoid liability. For nearly 30 years, residents of the quaint town of Libby, Mont., worked for W.R. Grace, mining and processing an insulation product known as vermiculite. Little did they know, they were risking their lives. This compelling documentary follows the plight of these courageous Americans as they band together to lift one another up from throes of illness and take on the all-powerful corporation.WR Grace corporation disregarded safety concerns that led to death and damage of a whole town. They then declared bankruptcy and left the bill to the government. Ronald Reagan placed Mr. Grace in charge of a federal position to trim the size of the government, thereby preventing anyone in power from actually taking action or easily ruling against Grace. The story of Libby, its residents and the workers of Grace Co. is moving, infuriating and a real indictment of the deregulation spree of the Reagan years, continued by Bush One, not helped much by Clinton, and taken to an obscene extreme by Bush Two. It is one more important documentation of the failure of Free-Market Gone Wild. An especially timely documentary when Republican and Tea Party stooges whine that corporations need weaker environmental laws. It’s a lesson in just how bad things get without strong government intervention. One expert says you expect environmental travesties of this magnitude in poor countries, but not in the US. The film concerns the biggest environmental-crime prosecution in U.S. history. Isn’t it odd that everyone knows of BP’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, yet most of us are unaware of how The Grace Corporation left a Montana town to die. I lived in Libby from age 12 to 20. I used to play in mountains of that Zonolite ore. What kids will do, climbing to the top and rolling down to the bottom. Only did it once though. Afterwards I couldn’t breathe very well and thought I was having an asthma attack and my clothes itched so badly I had to take them off and scrub in the shower for hours to help the itching. I didn’t know as a kid what was in that stuff, and even the adults in town didn’t know. However, I felt that the director spent too much time on interviews with individuals that didn’t serve to either provide more information or move the story forward. I’d rather have seen time spent showing what products the Grace Co.vermiculite was used in and where it was sold; it’s everywhere and that’s also very important for the audience to know and a significant part of the Libby mines story. Everyone should see this documentary. Informative, unbiased and riveting. Real life, great stuff. MUST SEE. Documentary 2005 NR 124 minutes.

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