HIGHTOWER: Dying to Help W.R. Grace & Co.
Helen Bundrocks would like to talk to Paul Norris. She lives in Libby, Montana, while Mr. Norris is the CEO of W.R. Grace & Co., living far away in Boca Raton, FL. Their connection is a vermiculite mine. Mr. Norris profits from this mine in Libby; Ms. Bundrocks is dying because of it.
She's not alone. Already, nearly 200 people in this small town are dead from a vicious by-product of vermiculite mining: asbestos. Ms. Bundrock's husband, Art, suffered and died because of breathing asbestos in the mine. But Helen has asbestosis, too, and she never went into the mine, nine miles outside of town. Nor did her five children, four of whom also are diagnosed and likely to have their lives cut short by the disease.
USA Today reports that, for decades, Grace's mine spewed 5,000 pounds of asbestos a day into the air, spreading it for 30 miles around. Miners were not even provided showers or changing rooms -- they came home, gave the family a big hug ... and spread powdery asbestos everywhere. The company told them it was just "nuisance dust" -- even though it has now been revealed that mine managers knew as early as 1962 that it was causing disease and death. But their requests to corporate headquarters for money to control the dust were denied, as were requests to fund health studies.
Grace now admits that it's mine caused this murderous outbreak of lung disease, and it's now funding health screenings for the locals -- but it's lobbyists also are in Washington pushing a bill to exempt the corporation from liability.
Meanwhile, Mr. Norris breathes free. He's never been to Libby, but he says if he does get out there sometime he'd be willing to talk with Helen Bundrocks.
This is Jim Hightower saying ... Hey, greedhead, fire-up the corporate jet and make a special trip -- that's the least you can do for a family paying with their lives to make you a millionaire. Why isn't this guy in jail?