Abstract

The Reserve Mining v. EPA case involved the disposal of iron ore mine tailings containing asbestos in Lake Superior over an extended period. The case litigation is described, and the decision forcing the Reserve Mining Co to spend over $200 million to eliminate asbestos from the drinking water of Duluth, MN, is assessed in light of uncertain risk assessment. It is concluded that the court decision was the prudent one on the basis of both cost/benefit and feasibility analysis. Cost/benefit analysis focuses on the possible number of lives saved vs. the total cost of control, while feasibility analysis stresses factors such as voluntariness, strangeness of risk, and concentration of costs on particular firms rather than on overall cost and mortality reduction.

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