An appeal lodged by WR Grace in relation to asbestos related criminal charges has been rejected by the Supreme Court. The appeal was rejected last week, and related to a case where criminal charges had been brought against the firm over the release of asbestos from a mine in Libby , Montana .

WR Grace and six of its executives were charged by federal prosecutors in February of 2005, and they were accused of violation of the Clean Air Act due to the alleged release of asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby. Prosecutors claimed that officials from WR Grace were aware of the dangers of asbestos but failed to prevent its release from the Montana mines.

Attorneys have claimed that around two thousand residents in Libby have become sick through asbestos exposure, and over two hundred have died as a result of asbestos related illness. The decision of the courts means that the government case against WR Grace can now go to trial.

WR Grace declared bankruptcy back in 2001, and by that time it had been named in over one hundred thousand lawsuits relating to exposure to asbestos. In April the company agreed to a three billion dollar settlement agreement, and this would allow it to emerge from bankruptcy without further asbestos related liabilities. It will also pay two hundred and fifty million to the government to cover the cost of asbestos clean up.

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