Former W.R. Grace official says he warned leaders about asbestos 30 years ago.

Missoula, MT (–The ex-global vice president of W.R. Grace & Company’s construction products division, Robert Locke, testified on March 23, 2009, as a witness for the U.S. federal government, as reported by Bloomberg. The federal asbestos violations criminal lawsuit was filed by attorneys for the government in the U.S. District Court of Montana in Missoula. Locke testified, before the jury at the trial, stating he warned his superiors, in 1976, about the asbestos contamination in the vermiculite mine in Libby, after company tests proved vermiculite ore sheds asbestos fibers.

Lawyers for the government have been presenting a strong criminal case against the five former executives for the now bankrupt W.R. Grace chemical and construction materials company. The construction materials company, based in Columbia, Maryland, has been charged in federal court with conspiring to expose Libby, Montana residents to asbestos contaminated vermiculite. The asbestos materials makers are also accused of hiding the dangers of direct and secondary exposure to asbestos products and obstructing the government’s cleanup. Locke further testified, before the judge and jury, asbestos fibers were prevalent throughout the mine and worker areas. He disclosed these toxic materials continued to pollute the air, there was no way to contain the toxic exposure, and the continued release of the chemical could lead to criminal prosecution.

Vermiculite, an asbestos containing material, is a mineral used in insulation, fireproofing, and potting soil which was mined in W.R. Grace’s Libby Monotana, at the Zonolite mine from 1963 to 1990. When mine workers, construction laborers, area residents, and consumers are exposed to products, contaminated with asbestos, they can develop numerous asbestos related illnesses including mesothelioma lung cancer. new for injured victims and Montana asbestos injury claims litigators.