first_imgOfficials with the Environmental Protection Agency say a 400-acre industrial park in Libby is clean enough to be removed from the National Priorities List, opening the door for more economic development in Lincoln County.Rebecca Thomas, project manager for the EPA’s Libby Superfund, said the Lincoln County Port Authority’s Kootenai Business Park located on the south end of Libby could be removed from the priorities list within a year.The National Priorities List includes hazardous waste sites eligible for cleanup within the EPA’s Superfund program. Much of Lincoln County has been on the list since the early 2000s when it was discovered that thousands of people were sickened by asbestos contamination from a nearby mine. A final remedy for the cleanup will be released next month, according to Thomas. The Kootenai Business Park, once home to the Stimson Lumber Company, would be the first site in the area to be delisted.“This is actually one of my favorite parts of the Superfund process, to actually remove a site from the National Priorities List,” Thomas said. “This will strengthen the economy of the local area and I’m really excited that we’re coming to this point.”The EPA has worked closely with the port authority to delist the industrial park, which would help the local government go after more grants business, according to Tina Oliphant, executive director of the port authority and Kootenai River Development Council. Oliphant said the port authority approached the EPA about delisting the site earlier this year.“It would be a statement to business investors who are looking at building in Libby,” she said. “It would tell them that we have the environmental issues settled at this site and that they should come and talk to us.”Thomas said there would be a 30-day comment period before the site could be officially delisted. If it is delisted, there would be no restrictions on what could be done at the site. She said that land could be excavated as long as incoming businesses are informed that they could run into asbestos further down and they have a plan to address it if they do.Lincoln County Commissioner Mark Peck said local officials are excited about the prospects of delisting the site.“People are hesitant to invest in a site when there is a huge Superfund designation hanging over it,” he said. “But this would be a huge step forward.” Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Emaillast_img read more