News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Calls for Asbestos Action
Feb 26, 2017
In a letter to India’s Minister of Environment Anil Madhav, who in August 2016 publicly spoke of the need to protect citizens from the risk of contracting asbestos diseases, grassroots activist Jagdish Patel from the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India urged the Minister to work with government colleagues to end toxic exposures and support efforts by the United Nations Rotterdam Convention to include chrysotile (white) asbestos on a list of substances subject to regulatory controls. The next meeting of the Rotterdam Convention will take place from April 24 to May 5, 2017. See: In 2017 at COP 8, India has another opportunity to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in PIC.
Basque Asbestos Verdict
Feb 26, 2017
For the first time, a Basque city has been condemned for toxic asbestos exposures to a municipal worker. The claimant’s verdict was handed down by a court in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Autonomous Community, against the City of Llodio. The family of municipal employee Kepa Galdos, who died in 2012 from mesothelioma, was awarded €133,806 (US$141,320) for the municipality’s failure to prevent toxic workplace exposures to asbestos. Welcoming the verdict, the Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi condemned the Mayor’s “total contempt and lack of sensitivity to the victims of asbestos.” See: Press Release by Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi.
Scandal: Asbestos in Schools
Feb 25, 2017
A report published on February 23, 2017 by the UK government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) revealed that 20% of schools attended by 1 million children were “not fully compliant” with asbestos procedures “in that they did not have fully documented plans, processes and procedures in place at the time of the data collection, or did not know if asbestos was present.” Chris Keates, general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT said that: “These results seriously call into question the DfE’s fundamental assumption that asbestos can be managed safely left in situ, as clearly this is not happening in too many cases.” See: Asbestos in schools is a ‘serious’ problem, Government report finds.
Ban Asbestos Bill
Feb 24, 2017
A press release issued yesterday (February 23) by Bob Bailey, a Member of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament (MPP) announced that the second reading of the Asbestos Use Prohibition Act was to take place in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly yesterday afternoon. The bill calls for a ban on the use, reuse, import, transport or sale of asbestos in Ontario and requires the province to set up a public registry of buildings which are owned or leased by the province that contain asbestos. An online petition in support of this bill has also been launched by MPP Bailey. See: press release announcing second reading of Bill 88.
Asbestos Lawsuit by Ministry
Feb 24, 2017
Paraná’s Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) has filed a multimillion reals public civil action against Brazil’s Eternit asbestos company for occupational asbestos exposures at its factory in the city of Colombo. The evidence submitted by the MPT includes data collected since 2008 during inspections carried out at the Eternit facility that substantiated the avoidable risks to the workers in light of the availability of safer fibers and technologies for the production of products such as roofing tiles and water tanks. See: Ministério Público pede indenização de R$ 85 milhões contra a empresa Eternit [Attorney General seeks compensation of R$ 85 million against Eternit company].
Carcinogen OK, Poison Not
Feb 23, 2017
People and politicians in the Russian town of Asbest – who defend the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos, a human carcinogen – are calling for a public consultation over whether the construction of a factory processing antimony should be permitted, citing public health concerns regarding the poisonous effects on human beings of antimony exposures. The National Antimony Company’s plans to build in Degtyarsk were abandoned after mass protests by activists and environmentalists. See: «Мы не хотим жертвовать здоровьем»: в Асбесте депутаты готовят протест против нового завода [“We do not want to sacrifice health”: Asbest MPs prepare protest against new plant].
Asbestos Road Map
Feb 23, 2017
Today, the launch of a working group to develop a National Asbestos Profile of Cambodia took place at a meeting convened in Phnom Penh. The event was sponsored by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in partnership with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and Australian Aid. The action plans resulting from these collaborations are intended to protect public and occupational health from the deadly asbestos hazard. The efforts of the working group – which will be conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training – will be informed by medical experts, representatives of international agencies, civil servants and others. See: Picture.
Andalusia’s Toxic Pipes
Feb 22, 2017
A committee of the Parliament of the autonomous community of Andalusia has approved a ministerial proposal to undertake an audit of pipes used to deliver regional water supplies with a view to the elimination of the asbestos hazard from the network. The committee has called on stakeholders, including council and municipal authorities, to collaborate on the planning and removal of the cancer threat to citizens and has set a deadline for the prohibition of asbestos in water delivery systems. See: El Parliament andaluz aprueba una propuesta de IU para la eliminación de amianto en tuberías de agua [The Andalusian Parliament approves a UI proposal for the elimination of asbestos in water pipes].
Tightening Asbestos Controls
Feb 22, 2017
On February 21, 2017, the Government of South Korea announced tighter regulations for asbestos management to safeguard individuals attending or working at private after-school academies from hazardous exposures; the new regulations will be introduced this week. To improve monitoring efforts, the introduction of a biannual air quality test has been mandated on smaller facilities which, until now, had been exempt from these requirements. Non-compliance with the asbestos regulations can be punished with a fine of up to ten million won (US$8750). See: Gov't tightens asbestos management rules.
Award for British Doctor
Feb 20, 2017
Yesterday (February 19), at the annual general meeting of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia in Perth, Western Australia, Dr Helen Clayson was announced as the recipient of the Society’s Eric Saint Memorial Award 2017. This highly prestigious award is made in recognition of assistance provided to asbestos victims by a medical professional, technical expert, support worker or campaigner. In her introduction to the award ceremony, Rose Marie Vojakovic said that the worthy recipient was a former general practitioner and hospice medical director from the North of England; for a number of years, she had served as chair of the Barrow-in-Furness asbestos victims group and had written a UK Mesothelioma Handbook which had been adapted for use by Australian sufferers.
Asbestos Propaganda War
Feb 20, 2017
SINTICOMEX, a Brazilian union affiliated to the asbestos industry, has denounced the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos Exposed and a legal firm from São Paulo for supporting the family of a worker who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, casting aspersions on the truth of allegations made that the deceased had been occupationally exposed to asbestos as a result of which he contracted cancer and died. The union says that since the 1990s, there have been no cases of asbestos-related disease in their region; the death of this and another worker are clear proof that they are incorrect. See: Movimento contra Amianto invade Pedro Leopoldo [Anti-asbestos movement invades Pedro Leopoldo].
Paying for Asbestos Healthcare
Feb 20, 2017
A paper published online this month (February 2017), entitled Medical costs of asbestos-related diseases in Spain between 2004 and 2011, estimated that the costs to the National Health System (NHS) between 2004 and 2011 of treating 37,557 patients suffering from asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) was €464 million, with specialist care accounting for 51% of total costs, primary healthcare 10%, and drug prescription 39%. The ARD bill for the NHS was 27.8-fold higher for male patients than for female patients with a €281m bill for treating patients with bronchopulmonary cancers. See: Medical costs of asbestos-related diseases in Spain between 2004 and 2011.
Ambler Deadline Extended
Feb 17, 2017
The date for submitting comments on proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the remediation of two Superfund sites – BoRit Asbestos Superfund Site and Ambler Asbestos Piles Superfund Site in Ambler, Pennsylvania – has been extended until March 3, 2017. For decades this town was the location of the Keasbey & Mattison asbestos factory. Widespread contamination is a fact of life for local people; the multimillion dollar EPA program is designed to tackle asbestos pollution in the soil, reservoir, waterways, dumpsites and environment. See: Environmental Concerns of Communities around Ambler, Pennsylvania.
Chrysotile Risk to Mechanics
Feb 16, 2017
A paper uploaded earlier this year exposed the ubiquity and hazardous nature of workplace exposures to chrysotile asbestos at small workshops in India. The awareness about the danger of asbestos in one small-scale clutch-plate manufacturing unit was abysmal with 14 workers acknowledging they had no “detailed information about asbestos and its ill effects.” Eleven members of this cohort had contracted small airway disease and one of their colleagues had previously died of asbestosis. The authors of this paper conclude: “The usage of chrysotile should be strictly regulated as morbidity and mortality is high.” See: Asbestos-induced lung disease in small-scale clutch manufacturing workers.
Construction Workers Victory
Feb 15, 2017
On February 14, 2017, Judge Toshio Uchino of the Sapporo District Court ordered the government to pay a total of ¥176 million (~US$1.54m) in damages to former construction workers from Hokkaido with asbestos-related diseases and family members of those who have already died from these diseases, saying: “The state should have informed the workers’ employers by 1980 of the need to use dust-proof masks.” This is the fifth district court ruling which has found the government fully or partially responsible for asbestos-related damages at construction sites in Japan. See: Court orders government to pay ¥176 million to asbestos victims.
Executives Face Trial
Feb 15, 2017
Charges are being formalized by the Public Ministry over environmental contamination and asbestos-related deaths from the Bocamina power station in Coronel, Chile now belonging to Enel Generación Chile. Former executives of the predecessor company Empresa Nacional De Electricidad [Endesa] are accused of permitting polluting discharges into the bay of Coronel and negligently allowing hazardous workplace exposures to take place which led to two asbestos deaths and many cases of illness. See: Formalizarán ejecutivos Endesa por contaminación en Bocamina: trabajadores acusan muertes [Endesa executives to be charged over pollution deaths of Bocamina workers].
Keep Asbestos out of Australia!
Feb 15, 2017
Last week Unions NSW (New South Wales) released their program to end the almost continuous flouting of Australia’s asbestos ban by negligent importers and companies. The organization called on federal and state governments to implement a four-prong plan which would: reverse the onus of proof onto the importer, attract an automatic ban from future government contracts, introduce an exhaustive due diligence test and provide specialist training for border staff to ensure they have the skills and tools needed to stop asbestos imports from entering Australia. See: New case shows urgent need to stop asbestos importation.
Veteran Asbestos Litigant on Radio
Feb 14, 2017
Eric Jonckheere, whose family is on the brink of a landmark legal decision by the Brussels Court of Appeal, gave a radio interview on a telephone call-in show detailing the case and underlining the importance of the decision to be handed down on March 28. After the death of his mother, Eric and his brothers began a 17 year campaign to obtain legal recognition and judicial compensation form the Eternit company which operated the deadly asbestos factory near the family’s home. Eric has, he told the interviewer, lost his father, mother and two brothers to the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. See: Radio Rivierenland praat over asbest: “Ik verloor vier mensen aan asbest” [Riverland radio talking about asbestos: “I lost four people to asbestos”].
Government Mesothelioma Payouts
Feb 14, 2017
According to statistics released on January 31, 2017, more than £84 million in compensation has been awarded under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) to sufferers, or the families of those who died from mesothelioma, a cancer which killed 2,515 British people in 2014. Claimants have 3 years from diagnosis to apply for compensation. The DMPS is a scheme of last resort for mesothelioma victims who were negligently exposed to asbestos at work and are unable to trace their employer or their employer's insurer to seek compensation. See: New figures show more than £84 million awarded in compensation through Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
Asbestos: Imminent Hazard
Feb 14, 2017
Families living in government housing in the city of Chelghoum Laïd in, Mila Province, Algeria have repeatedly warned the authorities of the threat posed by the deterioration of asbestos-containing products in the thirty-year-old housing units they have occupied. The premises, built in 1987, are full of asbestos insulation, a material which is highly friable. According to local inhabitants, “10 to 12 [local] people died of cancer and asthma in 20 years.” Asbestos was banned in Algeria by Executive Decree No. 09-321 published on October 14, 2009. See: Sous la menace permanente de l’amiante [Living under the permanent asbestos threat].
Asbestos in the Capital’s Schools
Feb 13, 2017
Information obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been used to produce a map showing the location of 200 asbestos-contaminated schools in Ottawa. Considering that Canada was for decades the world’s biggest asbestos supplier, the ubiquity of toxic construction material in the floors, ceilings, walls and pipes of the capital’s schools comes as no surprise. Local school boards face a daunting task keeping children and staff safe from hazardous exposures in buildings which need constant repairs and renewal. Policies used include updated asbestos audits to prevent workmen disturbing contaminated products hidden within the school. See: Ottawa schools rife with asbestos.
Update: Ban Asbestos Campaign
Feb 13, 2017
A 45-page bumper issue of the quarterly Occupational Safety and Health Newsletter of the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Health Victims has now been uploaded which shows the amazing mobilization of ban asbestos support throughout Asia. Articles of special interest detail asbestos events and initiatives mounted by grassroots campaigners in India, Indonesia, Japan Kenya, Korea, Nepal, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. What is clear from the texts in Issue 39 is not only the progress being made by activists but the importance of cross-border and cross discipline collaborations amongst victims, workers, unionists, NGOs and others. See: Occupational Safety and Health Newsletter.
Concern over Barrow Cuts
Feb 12, 2017
The existence of a group working to assist victims of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in the town with the worst incidence of this killer disease in England and Wales is under threat from proposals by the Department for Work and Pensions to relocate an expert industrial injury team now based in Phoenix House, Barrow due to the planned closure of the building. Bob Pointer, a spokesperson for the group Cumbria Asbestos Related Disease Support, told a local journalist that civil servants at Phoenix House provide vital guidance on claimants’ rights including how people can access disability benefits. See: Fears raised over future of Barrow-based support group amid plan to close health assessment centre.
Jail for Asbestos Managers
Feb 11, 2017
Two managers of the Italian asbestos-cement company Fibronit which operated a factory in Broni were found guilty of manslaughter by a court in Pavia for asbestos deaths which occurred after 2002 of 20 factory workers and local people. A four-year sentence was handed down to Cardinal Michele, 74, former chief executive with Lorenzo Mo, 70, former factory director, receiving 3 years and 4 months. Fibronit adviser Alvaro Galvani 68 was acquitted. It has been estimated that 4,000 people worked at the plant before the company went bankrupt in 2011. See: Amianto, condannati due ex manager della Fibronit di Broni per omicidio colposo [Two former managers of Broni, Fibronit convicted of manslaughter].
Eternit’s Toxic Town
Feb 10, 2017
Twenty-seven kilometres from the capital of Colombia, is Sibaté, a town that lives under an asbestos cloud. It was here that the Eternit asbestos company built an enclave for managers of its nearby factory; the residents were exposed to environmental asbestos, many of them have died. Three members of the Bravo family have died from asbestos diseases. Throughout the town, Eternit’s asbestos waste was spread on public spaces and private areas: on the soccer pitch, the skating rink, the school, the bullring. Thirty per cent of the subsoil of Sibaté is asbestos. See: Sibaté: el drama de una comunidad que ha vivido bajo el peligro del asbestos [Sibaté: the drama of a community that has lived with the danger of asbestos].