International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Aug 22, 2017

The National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management has withdrawn funding for the asbestos removal program for Poland’s northern state of Warmia and Mazury. Subsidies available for carrying out remediation work have been reduced as a result of which applications for state assistance have decreased. Under a mandatory national scheme, all regions have until 2032 to eliminate asbestos contamination; failure to comply will incur heavy penalties. Experts believe there are still more than 200,000 tonnes of contaminated material in the state. See: Azbest zostanie z nami na dłużej. Narodowy fundusz wycofuje się z programu [Asbestos will stay with us longer. National fund withdraws from the program].

Aug 20, 2017

Even if asbestos is banned in Brazil, as many experts believe will happen as a result of a landmark Supreme Court decision expected on August 23, many people will die from toxic workplace or environmental exposures. Welcoming the end of asbestos use, former asbestos worker and President of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) Eliezer João de Souza told journalists that there is a lot of work to do in supporting the injured and eradicating the asbestos hazard from the Brazilian infrastructure. See: O amianto no Brasil está com os dias contados, diz ex-funcionário [The days are numbered for asbestos use in Brazil says former employee].

Aug 18, 2017

A bill to end the use of asbestos in Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil was presented on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 to the state legislature by Representative Eduardo Rocha, who claimed such action was needed to protect public and occupational health. The proposed law would prohibit the installation or purchase of asbestos-containing products, materials or artifacts. Several other Brazilian states have already banned asbestos. They include: Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Amazonas See: Projeto de lei busca vedar a utilização do amianto no MS [Bill Bans Prohibition of Asbestos Use in MS].

Aug 18, 2017

In a public demonstration by Greenpeace in the National Park of Bogotá on August 15, 2017, demands were made that Eternit, one of Colombia’s biggest asbestos companies, ban asbestos from its products. Greenpeace members mounted a performance set within a typical living room illustrating the hazards to family members of living with asbestos and products containing it. A bill to ban the commercial exploitation of asbestos, still mined and used in Colombia, is being considered by the Senate. See: Greenpeace pide a Eternit dejar de producir productos con asbestos [Greenpeace calls on Eternit to stop producing asbestos products].

Aug 18, 2017

Asbestos widely used in Australia after the Second World War to develop urban areas is also prevalent in remote rural communities. An innovative program by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, the result of consultation with communities in rural areas, is being run in collaboration with the Government of the Northern Territory, employing asbestos specialists to train local people to remove asbestos from their communities and other areas. One particular challenge is the distance from licensed asbestos disposal sites. New community waste facilities are being developed to accept asbestos debris. See: Fighting the scourge of asbestos in remote communities.

Aug 18, 2017

Spain’s Supreme Court has this summer upheld a ruling condemning the Uralita asbestos company for the mesothelioma deaths of two women who were exposed to asbestos whilst washing their husbands’ contaminated work clothes; both men had worked for decades at the company’s Getafe factory – from the 1960s. The Court awarded compensation of €180,000 to each family. See: El Supremo confirma una indemnización de 360.000 euros a los familiares de dos mujeres fallecidas por Amianto [Supreme Court confirms compensation of 360,000 euros for relatives of women killed by asbestos].

Aug 16, 2017

Acting Chief Justice Nishiata Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty have this week directed that asbestos-containing sheeting on the roofs of at least 10 courtrooms, the portico, 5 bar association rooms, the Bar Library, the study of the Bar Association and the department of the first assistant registrar in Kolkata’s High Court be removed. The toxic building material will be replaced with safer alternatives according to the orders handed down by the justices. This action has been taken after litigation was brought in 2016 by local resident Ashis Mitra. See: No more asbestos in HC: Acting Chief Justice.

Aug 16, 2017

To quantify the economic costs of lung cancer and mesothelioma cases associated with occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure diagnosed in 2011, researchers studied data relating to 2,331 cases. Direct and indirect total costs were estimated at $C381m and $C1.5 billion in quality of life costs. The contents of this paper are, the authors say, of importance to policymakers, and support the conclusion that the “economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma associated with occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure is substantial.” See: The economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma due to occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure.

Aug 15, 2017

Through its outstanding fund-raising efforts and in collaboration with the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) has made a generous scholarship available to provide $60,000 per year (and payment of other costs) to a suitable candidate “to grow the knowledge and expertise in mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases… (and to) directly contribute to ongoing NCARD research combating asbestos diseases…” Every year, the ADSA walk raises substantial sums for NCARD (see details of the 2017 walk, scheduled to commence on September 10). See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Phd Scholarship in Mesothelioma.

Aug 5, 2017

Amec Foster Wheeler, one of Britain’s biggest engineering groups, has announced potential future liabilities of £310m for thousands of asbestos cases most of which are expected from US claimants and all of which relate to exposures to equipment manufactured during or before the 1970s. In figures released a few weeks ago, the company reported 3,800 US claims in 2016, up from 3,420 claims in 2015, many of which were for mesothelioma or lung cancer. Amec Foster Wheeler has quantified the projected figures saying that the predictions are “subject to a number of uncertainties.” See: Amec Foster Wheeler faces £310m bill to settle asbestos-related claims.

Aug 14, 2017

Advocates for former General Electric (GE) workers exposed to occupational toxins, including asbestos, are campaigning for automatic compensation from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Lobbying for injured Canadian workers and family members, the Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition –Peterborough is calling for “presumptive entitlement” to compensation for illnesses contracted as a result of exposure to carcinogens used at GE’s Peterborough plant. See: More for Automatic compensation for General Electric Peterborough retirees exposed to toxins remains goal of Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition.

Aug 14, 2017

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of asbestos use in Brazil, the world’s third largest asbestos producer, scheduled to be handed down on August 10, 2017, brought many people to Brasilia including veteran ban asbestos campaigners Fernanda Giannasi and Eliezer João de Souza from the Brazilian Group of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). After the vote of Justice Dias Toffoli, however, the proceedings were suspended until August 17. See: ‘Atenção, contém amianto’: STF julga futuro da polêmica fibra, comum em telhados no Brasil [‘Attention, contains asbestos’: STF judges future of controversial fiber, common on roofs in Brazil].

Aug 14, 2017

Senator Nadia Blel presented a proposal to ban asbestos, entitled the Ana Cecilia Niño bill in honor of a deceased mesothelioma sufferer, to the Colombian Congress on August 2, 2017, highlighting the toxicity of the substance and the scores of countries which had already banned its use. (see August 8, 2017 TV interview with Senator Blel). The motivation of the ban asbestos project was, said the Senator, to protect “the health of Colombians.” A 5-year phase-out period is proposed to allow industries to make the transition to safer technologies. See: Nadia Blel radica proyecto de Ley “Ana Cecilia Niño” en contra del Asbesto [Nadia Blel’s bill “Ana Cecilia Niño” against Asbestos].

Aug 14, 2017

A collaborative project between private enterprise and school officials has succeeded in remediating asbestos contamination at Laerskool Hoeveld, a primary school in the South African City of Mpumalanga. During the Summer vacation, commercial asbestos specialists and staff from local businesses removed asbestos-containing products and refurbished the school premises. Commenting on this project, school principal Danie Heese said: “It was such a wonderful surprise for the children when they returned to school. They were buzzing with excitement about the upgraded facilities.” See: Hazardous asbestos cleared from Mpumalanga school.

Aug 11, 2017

One week after the discovery (July 24) of asbestos in service ducts at the Sydney Opera House where 25 electricians had been working, the Electrical Trades Union issued an order stopping work by its members on the $200 million renovation program. The exposed tradesmen had not been issued with protective clothing to work with the toxic material, nor had they received mandatory training for such work. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union is considering the possibility of further bans on the site. SafeWork NSW is investigating the asbestos discovery. See: Union bans workers from Sydney Opera House renovation after asbestos found.

Aug 11, 2017

The long-dreaded Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs – known more succinctly as the Jackson Report – which was published at the end of last month (July, 2017), made an exception for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung disease claims as specified on pages 101 and 102; on page 65, the report also highlighted the value of input received from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (AVSGF) on March 10, 2017: “The general view of the AVSGF was that such cases were not suited to FRC [Fixed Recoverable Costs].” See: Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs.

Jul 30, 2017

A press release issued in the aftermath of an international ban asbestos mission to Indonesia held between July 25 and 28, 2017, highlighted the “Urgent need for banning asbestos in Indonesia to avoid large increases in lung cancer rates and other asbestos related diseases in coming decades.” In meetings and workshops with trade unionists, asbestos sufferers, medical professionals, academics, and government officials, Canadian Prof. Yv Bonnier Viger detailed the tragic asbestos legacy in consuming countries and issued dire warnings of the price to be paid for Indonesia’s asbestos use. “Only 7 countries use more than 50,000 tonnes [of asbestos] per year – including Indonesia.” [Read full article]

Jul 25, 2017

In a press release dated July 21, 2017, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour declared support for prohibitions on the use of asbestos by 2020. This position was adopted in the wake of a Hanoi meeting which provided the opportunity for Australian, Canadian, Japanese and Vietnamese experts to discuss the multi-faceted hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos in Vietnam with national stakeholders, including representatives of the asbestos-cement roofing industry. Unfortunately, the participation of industry delegates was obstructive as they claimed there was “no proof chrysotile asbestos causes cancer…,” a claim which has been rejected by global experts and independent scientists. [Read full article]

Jul 20, 2017

The number of cross-border ban asbestos initiatives is escalating on an almost weekly basis with victims, family members as well as academic and technical experts travelling far afield to collaborate with like-minded colleagues. This month alone, we have seen groups of Japanese delegates visit the UK on an asbestos solidarity mission, while UK, Australian, Indian and Indonesian campaigners have taken part in activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the Ban Asbestos Network of Japan. Throughout the Mekong region, a ban asbestos roadshow has visited Cambodia, Laos and other countries to generate support for asbestos bans through the provision of up-to-date data and independent research. [Read full article]

Jul 17, 2017

A press release dated July 14, 2017 details efforts made by representatives of 13 Cambodian Ministries and trade unions to build capacity regarding the asbestos hazard, during a 5-day training initiative which took place in Siem Reap from July 10 to July14, 2017. Amongst the featured speakers were Canadian expert Professor Yv Bonnier-Viger, Dr. Rokho Kim (WHO), Mr. Jungho Choi (ILO), and Peter Tighe, Nick Miller and Phillip Hazelton (Australia). The initiative was organised by Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) in collaboration with multiple partners including the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. As a result of these meetings, work will begin on a Cambodian Asbestos Profile as the first step towards a national ban. [Read full article]

Jul 9, 2017

On June 16, 2017, South Africa’s Youth Day, scores of schoolchildren, teaching staff and school governors were brought together by the non-governmental organization Asbestos Interest Group to take part in an asbestos outreach activity in Kuruman, a former asbestos mining area in the Northern Cape Province. Participants from nine local schools received information about the area’s environmental asbestos hazard, took part in a candle lighting ceremony and created artwork depicting the region’s asbestos legacy. Trophies were presented to primary and intermediate level pupils whose entries won prizes in the art competition. [Read full article]

Jul 7, 2017

At the conclusion of an international asbestos seminar held in Manchester on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 asbestos victims’ groups from Europe, Asia and Australia issued a solidarity statement in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day (July 7) condemning the behaviour of asbestos companies in their home countries and the continuing activities of those seeking to profit from “this industry of mass destruction.” “The existence of the global asbestos trade,” is they wrote “an anathema and an abomination.” Paying tribute to the asbestos dead, they expressed their determination to continue the campaign to shut down the global asbestos trade and progress justice for all those who have been injured. [Read full article]

Jun 26, 2017

At a press conference held today in Kiev, Ukraine, the Ministry of Health announced that the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos is being banned in Ukraine. The new regulations were achieved in the face of fierce opposition from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists. This is no surprise given that amongst Ukraine’s neighbors are two countries which account for around 65% of global asbestos output. Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year. This ban will adversely impact on the financial prospects of Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies, however, perhaps of even greater import is the strategic significance of Ukraine’s action. [Read full article]

June 20, 2017

On June 8, 2017, an international asbestos conference was held in Bologna, Italy, an area with a high incidence of asbestos mortality due to hazardous exposures in the railway industry, at asbestos-cement production facilities, at a local plant which manufactured waterproofing materials and at power stations. Representatives of asbestos victims’ groups from Italy and Brazil updated delegates on progress achieved and challenges remaining in the struggle for asbestos justice. Trade unionists, scientists, an author, a teacher, a Mayor and campaigners – including Dr Agata Mazzeo whose PhD dissertation focused on the fight for asbestos victims’ rights in Brazil and Italy – also made presentations. [Read full article]

Jun 19, 2017

In the run-up to the UK’s annual Action Mesothelioma Day, this press release by UK and Japanese groups confirms the attendance at events in five cities of members of a Japanese delegation of asbestos victims, relatives and campaigners. Speaking on behalf of the visitors, Sugio Furuya said that: “The members of our delegation are eager to show solidarity with UK victims and to share experiences in order to progress the campaigns for asbestos justice at home and abroad.” See: Japanese version of this press release or for the English version select the “Read full article" link. [Read full article]

May 30, 2017

A seminar entitled “Accountability in Shipbreaking” took place in London this month. Amongst the speakers were six leading experts on the current situation regarding the annual disposal of hundreds of sea-going vessels on tidal beaches in Asia. The contentious disposal of the North Sea Producer – an oil and gas floating production storage and offloading vessel based for many years 250 km north-east of Aberdeen – was discussed. The export of the ship from the UK on May 17, 2016, its arrival in Bangladesh on August 14, 2016 and plans for its demolition at a yard in Chittagong contravened international instruments intended to prevent industrialized countries from dumping toxic ships in developing countries. [Read full article]

May 11, 2017

This report, prepared by the Peoples Training & Research Centre for the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) and launched at press conferences in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi on Friday, April 28, 2017 (International Workers’ Memorial Day), delineates the scale of India’s asbestos tragedy. News coverage about the publication of this ground-breaking document (see: Gujarat tops India with 49 percent use in hazardous asbestos, causing occupational disease, cancer: Report ) highlighted the high incidence of disability and disease amongst workers from power plants, asbestos mines, asbestos cement factories and small processing units. [Read full article]

May 10, 2017

The deliberations of hundreds of international delegates in Geneva and the actions of United Nations personnel involved in the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which drew to a close on May 5, 2017, were closely monitored by the global community of campaigners working to prevent human exposures to dangerous chemicals such as white asbestos. Commenting on the “moral cowardice and corruption” at the Convention, Brian Kohler, from the IndustriALL Global Union, said: “Hundreds of thousands will die as the result of the inaction of the Parties to the Convention, who chose to cave in to fierce lobbying and bullying by financial interests rather than do what they know is right.” [Read full article]

Mar 30, 2017

A historic victory was achieved on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 when the Brussels Court of Appeal upheld a ruling condemning the Belgian asbestos multinational Eternit for environmental asbestos exposure which killed Françoise Vannoorbeek-Jonckheere in 2000. In a 15-page judgment, the three judge panel concluded that Eternit had known asbestos was a carcinogenic substance since the 1970s but had failed to protect workers or local people from hazardous exposures as a result of which Françoise, who lived near the company’s factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos for decades, contracted the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Eternit asbestos victims around the world will be heartened and inspired by this news. [Read full article]

Mar 20, 2017

In a few weeks, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) on the Prior Informed Consent Procedures for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will meet for the eighth time. Pivotal to the success of the meeting and, indeed to the long-term viability of this multinational Convention, will be the decision taken regarding the inclusion of chrysotile (white) asbestos on a list of substances subject to mandatory trade regulations. In light of the intransigence of asbestos lobbyists and the delegations which support them at the RC, a proposal by the African Group of Nations may be the last hope for the Convention’s survival. [Read full article]

Feb 19, 2017

An analysis has been uploaded of a proposed trade deal between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which highlights the injustice and deadly consequences of allowing untaxed imports to India of asbestos, an acknowledged human carcinogen, from Russia and Kazakhstan in return for duty-free Indian exports of gherkins, cucumbers and other non carcinogenic produce to the EAEU. The 259-page report on which the contentious treaty is based is also uploaded. It is of relevance to note that while the report has been circulated this month (February 2017) to selected stakeholders, ban asbestos activists in India did not receive copies of this document from government sources. [Read full article]

Feb 7, 2017

News released last week by organizations nearly 5,000 miles apart confirm the existence and scale of an unfolding disaster in shipbreaking on tidal beaches in South Asia which accounted last year (2016) for 87% of all tonnage dismantled. Research by the Brussels-based NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation revealed multiple failures by the shipping industry to safely manage the disposal of end-of-life vessels and the deadly impact of hazardous working practices on the lives of shipbreaking workers. Conditions in Bangladesh’s yards are “known to be the worst;” in 2016, 22 workers died with a further 29 suffering serious injuries. [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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