Publisher: AK Press/Counterpunch
Released: January 7, 2010
Wasting Libby chronicles the heart-wrenching story of a small Montana town where the W.R. Grace & Company (of A Civil Action ) ran a vermiculite mine that supplied the world with insulation, fireproofing and garden materials for nearly 30 years.
But Grace's vermiculite was laced with a virulent form of asbestos, and in its quest for profits the company betrayed this rural community, spreading a legacy of death and disease from northwestern Montana to the World Trade Center, through more than 35 million buildings in the United States estimated to have been insulated with Grace's lethal ore. Decades of neglect by state and federal agencies allowed the Grace corporation to reap millions in profits, while knowingly exposing generations of Montana residents to fatal levels of asbestos-contaminated dust.
Libby's story, which culminates in the 2009 criminal trial of the corporation's executives, is ultimately the tale of the families who fought Grace for justice, who refused to sacrifice their dignity even as they lost their lives.
"Andrea Peacock is an excellent reporter—the reader trusts her quiet voice immediately. She is also a skilled interviewer, intelligent and empathetic, with a sure ear for telling gesture, thought and speech. Best of all, she is a gifted writer and fine story-teller: readers of Wasting Libby won't be bored, though they may well be—and should be—outraged by the tragic stories she tells about the innocent victims."— Peter Matthiessen, author of Shadow Country and The Snow Leopard
"The mind of the American West is deftly limned in this fine book. A smart, solid and resonant account of corporate wickedness and the small Montana company town betrayed unto the very death by its largest employer."— Joy Williams, author of Ill Nature The Changeling
Andrea Peacock is a Montana-based journalist who has covered western environmental news and politics since 1991. She is the co-author, with her husband Doug Peacock, of The Essential Grizzly. In 2010, she was awarded a fellowship with the Alicia Patterson Foundation.