Today is the 16th of July 2013 which is second day for all SUSI fellows in Kalispell as well as the second day of the third week since we have been in Montana, the U.S.
Due to the fact that yesterday was a busy day for lecturing and preparing stuffs before departing from Missoula to Kalispell so I felt a little tired when we arrived in the hotel last night. However, as it is our first arrive in this city, I was very excited to go out and discover the town even at the night time with my SUSI friends. As I went back to the hotel quite late, I went to bed in midnight, therefore, it was the cause that I could not get up as early as the time that my alarm clock has been set.
The weather today seems to be cooler than in Missoula especially in the morning, nevertheless, the sky is as beautiful as in Missoula, clear and blue just like the ocean. The big white clouds are like cotton flying freely in the blue sky. I think I am falling in love with Montana’s sky. When I opened my eyes it was 6.30 in the morning. One thing that I then realized is that I could not hear the sound of birds which I have always heard in every morning in Missoula, or that would be because no window was opened? Anyway, after I got up I tried to finish doing all stuffs and went to have breakfast with my roommates Kj and Jennifer in a hurry since we were afraid of being late for the meeting. At 7.50am everybody was at our meeting point, hotel’s lobby and all of us were ready to depart to Libby, a uniquely located town in northwestern Montana.
It was my first time to be Dr. Len’s passenger. It should be so much fun talking with him on the way to Libby but most of the people on the car ended up with sleeping. It took around 2 hours to arrive in Libby. We were late behind the schedule due to the fact that the road to Libby is under construction so there was traffic problem, cars could not move so fast. At 10.00am, we were all at Lincoln County Campus, a place for today’s lectures. Just after our arrival, the first lecture of the day has then started by Mr. Nick Raines, Asbestos Resource Program Manager. During the class time he gave us many useful information about Vermiculite and Asbestos in a connection with Libby and its population which are include the introduction of both vermiculite and asbestos, how it has been discovered, what can people use vermiculite for, what are asbestos related diseases, what are the organizations or departments that are involved in dealing with the problems cause by vermiculite mining, etc. I have learnt from the lecture that vermiculite and asbestos cause a huge problem for Libby not only the environmental aspect but also on health issue. Mine Company, W.R. Grace released fibers in the air in their mine site and as fibers are light it could stay for so long in the air and then spread out. So when people breathe in fiber they are at risk of lung cancer. Therefore, as more fibers have been released more people were affected so it needed for help to be reached to residents in Libby especially in cleaning up people’s property after the mine corrupted in 1990 which EPA is the main agency for cleanup. Furthermore, Asbestos Resource Program also plays an important role in educating people even kids in kindergarten to student in all grades in the school, providing resources to people in the community to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos as well as focus on Local Health Initiatives.
After the lecture it was time for lunch. Actually, base on the schedule we have to go to Libby Café for lunch but due to some reasons we all have to gather at yard next to the Lincoln County Campus building just to wait for Mel and Randle to go pick the food for us. As most SUSI-ers are the ones who could never live without taking photo especially when they have space time like this, hence, it was the right time for them to spend their time efficiently in taking group photo and act like crazy. We created many posts particularly the jumping post which all people jump up together at the same time and the photographer have to be quick and accurate in calculating the perfect time to shut the camera button in order to have the picture that all people are jumping in the air. It was so much fun especially when we jumped in the middle of the road and people in the cars that passed by stared at us curiously of what we were doing. When Mel and Randle came back with chicken and chips, everything stopped. We enjoyed our lunch and talked together before the time for the next session comes.
Around 13.00 the second lecture about U.S. Environment Protection Agency or EPA by Mr. Mike Cirian, the Remedial Project Manager and another person who I cannot remember her name has began in the same place and same room as the first lecture. A lot of information has been given to us during the 2 and a half hour of time. As I have learnt in the morning that EPA is the main agency that runs the cleanup of asbestos for Libby people’s property. As a result, many details given by Mr. Mike who works closely with the issue are clear and specific. According to his lecture, 4400 property were looked by EPA in the past few years. Among the number above, 1700 of them needed cleanup while 700 of them rejected to be looked at. Beside, he explained the way how to clean up the asbestos in the property and the rules of removal. Eventhough, I was a little confused at some points but it was very interesting honestly. Moreover, the research around mining area has also been addressed, many interesting issues have been raised and that could grab the attention from a number of people in the class which also made me not to feel sleepy in the lecture time.
At 16.00, the third and last lecture of the day came. Ms. Tanis Hernandes, Administrative Director and Ms. Tracy McNew, Clinical and Research Managern were invited to give us knowledge on the health impacts of the Libby asbestos exposure. In this lesson, brief and quick information has been passed through power point and speakers. In the period of one hour time, I gained various more knowledge about the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases( CARD) which are included CARD’s mission in providing long-term screening, health monitoring, disease diagnose, etc. as well as Libby Amphibole research, toxic value for Libby Amphibole, and a lot more information concerning to asbestos related diseases. After the final lecture, we all headed back to Kalispell and spend our night freely in the town after a long day of lecturing. And it comes to the end of SUSI-ers journey for today, Tuesday 16th July 2013.
* Although today is a day that is full of lectures. Anyhow, in my opinion all lessons were very interesting and beneficial for all SUSI folks in having greater understanding about U.S. environmental issues in different aspect as what we have obtained from the past two weeks in the U.S.