Miller continues testimony, explains EPA testing
The U.S. government funneled much of its case through expert witness Aubrey Miller early Tuesday afternoon. The prosecution presented and entered into evidence numerous demonstrative exhibits and studies in which it asked Miller his opinion and how he came to the conclusion that Libby was unsafe and in desperate need of a cleanup.
Miller spoke quietly and slowly, looking at the jury most of the time, as he explained the science behind the testing that the EPA conducted in Libby. He kept a large binder of documents at the stand and read from it when citing examples of test results.
“I’m really trying to make this concept as clear as I can,” Miller said.
That concept is that of asbestos levels in a testing sense. There are several numbers, figures and benchmarks from different entities that conclude what is a safe level of asbestos. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards of permissible levels differ from the Environmental Protection Agency standards. At one point, Miller said that even if a testing site results in figures below the permissible level, the area can still be contaminated and dangerous.
One test included simulating Libby residents’ activities and recording the asbestos levels produced by those activities. These simulations included children playing in the dirt and adults raking and adults mowing the lawn. No children were involved with the particular test; rather, EPA workers would sit in the dirt with a plastic shovel and pale and dig around, according to Miller.
The defense objected to nearly every test result chart entered into evidence. Nearly every objection was overruled. But just prior to the afternoon recess, defense attorney David Bernick told Judge Donald Molloy that the afternoon was merely a “document exercise” and that the prosecution nearly presented its entire case through a single witness. Bernick implied that his team needed the rest of the day to prepare to cross examine and figure out who is going to ask which questions.
Molloy agreed with Bernick’s response to the afternoon testimony and asked McLean if he had a lot more exhibits and tests to go over. The government, in fact, had several more documents to go over.
At this point, Miller had stepped down from the stand and an unidentified individual sitting next to his seat in the audience said, “You’re lucky they’re probably not going to cross you today.”
-Kelsey Bernius (posted 11:45 pm)
Posted: March 10th, 2009 under News.