News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos Mining Company Update

Dec 1, 2021

Uralasbest, one of Russia’s biggest asbestos mining and manufacturing conglomerates, announced this week that it was on course to fulfil its five year mission to produce 300,000 tonnes of chrysotile asbestos fiber and ten million tonnes of asbestos-containing building products every year. By 2023, a new plant to crush stone will be operational which will allow volumes of rock processing to increase from 2 million tonnes in 2020 to 4 million tonnes. See: Миссия выполнима. Градообразующее предприятие Асбеста реализует масштабный план развития [Mission Possible. The founding enterprise of the city of Asbestos is implementing a large-scale development plan].
 

Travesty of Justice!

Dec 1, 2021

On November 30, 2021, Madrid’s Superior Court of Justice overturned the verdict of Madrid’s Social Court 2 which had found that the cancer death of the famous Spanish entertainer and TV personality José María Íñigo had been caused by exposure to asbestos at the TV studios of the Spanish Radio and Television Corporation (Corporación de Radio y Televisión Espaola, S.A. RTVE). The Superior Court was not convinced that Íñigo had been exposed to asbestos by RTVE or that such exposure had caused him to contract mesothelioma, a fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. See: Un tribunal revoca la sentencia que atribuyó la muerte de José María Íñigo al amianto de TVE [The Madrid Superior Court of Justice overturns the previous sentence that linked the death of José María Íñigo to asbestos (exposure) at TVE].
 

Asbestos Anxiety Claims

Dec 1, 2021

Presentations regarding the current state of litigation on behalf of claimants suffering from asbestos anxiety were the focal point of a meeting of Adeva 29, a local asbestos victims’ group in Brest, France on November 26, 2021. Eighty attendees were told that whilst some claims were recognized, such as those from people who had worked at industrial sites where asbestos exposures had been identified, other claims were strongly contested such as those initiated by people who had worked in the merchant navy or aboard fishing vessels. The average value of asbestos anxiety claims was €8,000 (US$9,000). See: À Brest, la reconnaissance du préjudice d’anxiété lié à l’amiante patine pour certains [In Brest, the recognition of anxiety prejudice linked to asbestos remains elusive for some].
 

Estimates of Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Dec 1, 2021

Research regarding the number of asbestos-related cases of lung cancer which occurred in various Italian occupational sectors found that the risk was higher for men then women, with the highest figures amongst construction workers who had 2.8 lung cancer deaths to every one mesothelioma death. The scientists estimated that there were 3,814 cases of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure between 2010 and 2015 in Italy. The co-authors of this paper stressed the importance of better information and prevention strategies, improved health surveillance of workers and a more responsive legal protocol for identifying claims. See: L'impatto dell'esposizione occupazionale ad amianto sul tumore del polmone in Italia [The impact of occupational exposure to asbestos on lung cancer in Italy].
 

HSE Asbestos Prosecution

Dec 1, 2021

On November 29, 2021, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that after the defendants had pleaded guilty to contravening asbestos regulations in 2019, Peterlee Magistrates Court had fined the Park View Academy of Church Chare, Chester Le Street and its contractors T.W. Steam & Heating Services Limited of Durham £7785.37 and £6,710.37 respectively, including costs. Following the verdict HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.” See: School and contractor fined for unsafe removal of asbestos.
 

Paris Protest & Action by Asbestos Victims

Nov 29, 2021

On November 25, 2021, 2,000 French asbestos victims staged a street demonstration and public rally in Paris to reenforce calls for a criminal trial of people responsible for the country’s asbestos epidemic; all of the accused had worked with the Permanent Committee on Asbestos, a trade association supported by asbestos vested interests. A direct summons to the Paris judicial court was lodged demanding that the silence over this scandal which had lasted for 25 years could no longer be tolerated. The victims appealed directly to the criminal court without going through a judicial enquiry. Three thousand people die every year in France from asbestos-related diseases. See: Amiante: les victimes relancent le procès penal [Asbestos: victims relaunch criminal trial].
 

Mining Company Liable for Medical Costs

Nov 29, 2021

Last week, Brazil’s sole remaining asbestos mining company: Sama Minerações Associadas, a subsidiary of the Eternit group, was ordered by a Goiás state court to pay for medical tests for a period of 30 years for former employees who had worked with asbestos at its mine in Minaçu, Goiás. The company is appealing this verdict. In contravention of a Supreme Court ruling issued in 2017, the company announced in November 2021 that it planned to recommence asbestos mining. See: Sama é condenada a pagar exames médicos por 30 anos para ex-funcionários que trabalharam com amianto [Sama is ordered to pay for medical tests for 30 years for former employees who worked with asbestos].
 

Update: Asbestos Removal in Catalonia

Nov 29, 2021

The Government of Catalonia has allocated €4.5 million (US$5m+) for the removal of asbestos from 200 buildings in Barcelona. According to the proposed work schedule, the asbestos eradication work will be completed by 2025. In July, 2021, Pere Aragonès President of the Government of Catalonia approved a National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia. After years of campaigning by the city council and local people, this news was warmly received. See: El Govern destina 4,5 millones a retirar el amianto de 200 edificios de Badia (Barcelona) [The Government allocates 4.5 million to remove asbestos from 200 buildings in Badia (Barcelona)].
 

Asbestos Dumpsites Full in Italy!

Nov 29, 2021

A persistent problem throughout Italy is the lack of sites for legally disposing of asbestos waste. This issue was raised last week by regional councillor Emanuele Zanon, the former mayor of Cavasso Nuovo. According to Zanon: “All the disposal plants are practically closed and companies are forced to turn to Norway, with skyrocketing costs…The problem is that in Italy there are hardly any sites available to accommodate these materials.” The lack of availability of affordable dump sites will, Zanon warned, lead to illegal and dangerous fly-tipping. See: Emergenza amianto, Zanon lancia l'allarme [Asbestos emergency, Zanon raises the alarm].
 

Possible Drinking Water Asbestos Risk

Nov 29, 2021

Having considered evidence, including studies by Italian researchers from the International Association of Doctors for the Environment, the European Parliament on October 20, 2021 approved a motion (Protection of Workers from Asbestos\) which recognized the risk of contracting oesophagus, stomach and colon cancer from the ingestion of asbestos fibers in drinking water. Although the evidence was not definitive, the motion recommended that the precautionary principle should be followed and called on Member States to carry out regular monitoring of drinking water. See: Amianto, il Parlamento Europeo cita uno studio ISDE e approva una mozione a difesa dei cittadini [Asbestos, the European Parliament cites an ISDE study and approves a motion in defense of citizens].
 

Tragic Death of Colin Clarke

Nov 25, 2021

A fit 45-year father of two from Perth, Australia has died from mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Colin Clarke, who was an emergency doctor, had no knowledge of having been exposed to asbestos. He survived for three years after the diagnosis had been made. Now, his wife Liz Clarke is working to raise awareness of the dangers to other Australians posed by the ubiquity of asbestos-containing products within the national infrastructure. This week, being asbestos awareness week, her message has gone out to people working in various trades, to home renovators and to tourists: educate yourself about the hazard and take steps to avoid any exposure. See: Perth man, 45, succumbs to mesothelioma as wife spreads asbestos awareness.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update from Novara

Nov 25, 2021

Testimony heard previously during the criminal trial in Novara, Italy over 392 asbestos deaths that occurred in Casale Monferrato confirmed that: “All 392 persons named in the charges listed against the defendants in the Eternit Bis trial died of mesothelioma, caused by the asbestos fibres they breathed in.” On November 22, 2021, lawyers defending Swiss asbestos tycoon Stephan Schmidheiny – who is charged with voluntary manslaughter – cross-examined prosecution expert medical witnesses about measures used to ascertain the cause of death of the deceased. The next hearing is November 29. See: Difesa al contrattacco: «Mesoteliomi certi solo se confermati da analisi immunoistochimiche» [Defense against the counterattack: “Mesotheliomas are certain only if confirmed by immunohistochemical analyses”].
 

Asbestos and Urban Transformation

Nov 25, 2021

Turkish politician and Vice President of the Republican People’s Party Gürsel Tekin issued warnings this week of the danger posed by uncontrolled urban transformation projects which liberate toxic asbestos fibers from old buildings being renovated or demolished. “Public health is,” he said “under serious threat.” Questions he put to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization focused on renewal projects underway in the Istanbul district of Fikirtepe. Tekin wanted to know: what precautions were being taken by contractors, what environmental supervision was in place, what documentation existed about mandatory checks of asbestos levels. See: Gürsel Tekin: “Kentsel dönüşüm, kentsel felakete dönüşmesin” [Gürsel Tekin: “Urban transformation should not turn into an urban disaster”].
 

Latest News on Mesothelioma Research

Nov 25, 2021

A paper by mesothelioma researchers from Australia which was uploaded on November 16, 2021 to the website of Science Direct examined how “the advent of cancer immunotherapy – and in particular the immune checkpoint inhibitor class of drugs – has resulted in recently approved new treatment options, with more currently under investigation.” The co-authors reviewed results from clinical trials and described new protocols for achieving early diagnoses of mesothelioma, before considering what new technologies might be progressed for treating mesothelioma patients. See: Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Banning Asbestos Use in Vietnam

Nov 24, 2021

A commentary by Associate Professor Dr. Bui Thi An, Director of the Institute of Natural Resources, cited below, elucidated the efforts of civil society activists, trade unionists, medical and scientific experts and politicians to protect Vietnamese people from toxic exposures to asbestos. As per a request by the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Construction drafted a Roadmap to End the Use of Chrysotile Asbestos by 2023 and a National Action Plan to Eliminate Asbestos-Related Diseases. Unfortunately, it looks like asbestos vested interests were able to forestall implementation of these protocols and so prolong the use of asbestos-containing construction material in Vietnam for the foreseeable future. See: Quá trình vận động dừng sử dụng Amiăng trắng ở Việt Nam [Campaign to stop the use of chrysotile in Vietnam].
 

Asbestos Exports Fuel Corporate Profits

Nov 24, 2021

An announcement by the Brazilian conglomerate Eternit SA on November 10, 2021 confirmed a healthy economic position after the company had in 2018 filed for judicial recovery under Brazilian bankruptcy laws, a year after the Supreme Court banned asbestos. Although Eternit – Brazil’s former asbestos giant – no longer uses asbestos in products it manufacturers for domestic consumption, 121,000 tonnes of asbestos fiber produced at its asbestos mine in Goiás State is being exported this year. This is a 165% increase in output compared to 2020. See: Eternit (ETER3) dobra o lucro no balanço do 3T21 [Eternit (ETER3) doubles earnings in the 3Q21 balance sheet].
 

Eradicating Asbestos in Madrid’s Schools

Nov 24, 2021

Civil society groups, including citizens’ action groups and trade unions, supported by politicians from various parties are demanding that the Madrid Community Government take urgent action about the hazard posed by asbestos contamination of the city’s schools. A Master Plan for the Elimination of Asbestos in the Community of Madrid which had been approved by the Madrid Assembly in 2020 has yet to be implemented. The plan calls for asbestos audits of each school as well as a management plan for the safe removal of asbestos products from the educational infrastructure. See: Guerra al amianto en los centros educativos de Madrid [Asbestos war in the educational centers of Madrid].
 

Death at the Opera House

Nov 24, 2021

The famous Italian Opera House La Scala claimed another victim with the death on November 19, 2021 of 83-year old electrician and sound engineer Franco Colombo who succumbed to mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with asbestos exposure. In 2019, Mr. Colombo had testified for the prosecution at a trial over asbestos deaths of La Scala colleagues. His is the 14th asbestos death of technicians, singers, musicians, workers and maintenance workers who had worked at the opera house. To date, no one has been held accountable. See: Amianto, morto l’ex fonico della Scala [Asbestos, former La Scala sound engineer has died].
 

Asbestos at the Shipyards

Nov 24, 2021

The article cited below detailed the ongoing predicament faced by Navantia – a Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company – due to historic cases of occupational asbestos exposures at its workplaces. Since the first asbestos claim was made in 2000, there has, said a company spokesperson, been an “exponential increase” in the number of compensation cases brought by former Navantia employees. The courts, which have proved sympathetic to these plaintiffs, have awarded sums as high as €400,000 (US$450,000) in individual cases. The company has just launched a new legal strategy for minimizing litigation expenses. See: Navantia se blinda ante los litigios por amianto con un contrato de 1,9 millones [Navantia shields itself against asbestos litigation with a 1.9 million contract].
 

Insulting HSE Penalty for Toxic Exposures

Nov 24, 2021

A November 18, 2021 press release from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) announced that a construction company had been fined £300 with £8,266.40 in court costs “after disturbing asbestos and removing it without adequate precautions at a pub in Trowbridge, Wiltshire” in September 2018 during renovation work. As a result of these actions, employees and people in the local area were exposed to asbestos fibers. Speaking about the case, an HSE Inspector said the “HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those [companies] that fall below the required standards.” See: Construction company fined for unsafe removal of asbestos.
 

More Asbestos Lies

Nov 22, 2021

The November article cited below featured disinformation from Russian asbestos lobbyists reassuring citizens that chrysotile (white) asbestos, such as that produced in Russia, was safe for use. Blaming Western economic and political interests for spreading lies about chrysotile, the author reported: “Scientists around the world claim that chrysotile is safe.” It is a fact that some scientists – those commissioned by industry stakeholders and asbestos defendants – allege that chrysotile use is safe. On the other hand, independent scientists and international agencies such as the WHO, ILO & IARC say that exposure to all types of asbestos can prove fatal. See: Безопасность и капремонт: популярные мифы о хризотилцементной продукции [Safety and overhaul: popular myths about chrysotile cement products].
 

Migration of Asbestos Fibers: New Research

Nov 22, 2021

Peer-reviewed laboratory research reported in the November 2021 online issue of the Journal of Hazardous Materials questioned the safety of burying asbestos waste due to new findings by US scientists which showed that asbestos fibers could, in the presence of certain organic material in soil, become mobile. This revelation means that buried asbestos could eventually reach groundwater and “could make it to nearby communities via irrigation, or become airborne after washing up and drying out on riverbanks.” The research could, if confirmed by additional work, have serious implications for the way the Environment Protection Agency and other government bodies handle asbestos-contaminated sites. See: Mobility of asbestos fibers below ground is enhanced by dissolved organic matter from soil amendments.
 

Addressing Regional Asbestos Challenges

Nov 22, 2021

A virtual meeting on November 17, 2021 in Apia, Samoa brought together Australian and local experts “to help countries understand the importance of a regulatory framework to address adverse impacts of ACM [asbestos-containing material] on human health and the environment” in Pacific island countries during the Third Clean Pacific Roundtable. The importance of establishing asbestos management plans, an asbestos code of practice and an agency to co-ordinate work addressing a multiplicity of challenges were emphasized by the speakers. Pilot projects to abate asbestos contamination in Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, and Tonga are ongoing. See: Clean Pacific Roundtable Zeroes In On Addressing Asbestos Containing Materials.
 

Asbestos Trial: Update from Novara

Nov 22, 2021

The latest court hearing in the case against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny over the asbestos deaths of 392 people in the town of Casale Monferrato took place at the Court of Assizes in Novara on November 15, 2021. During the session, bereaved relatives as well as medical and epidemiological experts gave evidence over the catastrophic results of asbestos contamination caused by operations at Schmidheiny’s asbestos-cement factory. At the next hearing on November 22, the plaintiffs’ and defendant’s lawyers will cross-examine the five consultants who testified on November 15. See: «E’ il mesotelioma la causa di tutte quelle 392 morti»: parlano i consulenti della procura [“Mesothelioma is the cause of all those 392 deaths”: the prosecutor's office consultants speak].
 

Asbestos Whistle-blower Fights On

Nov 22, 2021

Allegations over occupational asbestos exposures brought by David Ian Hamilton against a former employer resulted, he alleges, in his dismissal in 2019. As the lawsuit wends its way through the courts, the Vancouver Island whistle-blower is working to raise awareness of the hazard posed by asbestos to trade union members and others whose employers had failed to provide asbestos training. WorkSafeBC – a statutory agency in British Colombia tasked with preventing occupational injury and disease – has operated an Asbestos Initiative Program since 2016; in 2020, it conducted 3,000 inspections during which it issued ~1,500 asbestos-related orders for violations, of which 959 were high-risk. See: Vancouver Island asbestos warrior doesn’t accept WorkSafeBC’s response.