News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Upholding Asbestos Ban

Jun 14, 2021

A guilty verdict was handed down on June 9, 2021 by a São Paulo (SP) Court which indicted the producers (SAMA), sellers (Eternit SA) and transporters (Transportes Scatuzzi Ltd.) of chrysotile asbestos fiber from the Goiás chrysotile mine for exporting asbestos via ports in SP state including Santos, Guaruja and Cubatão. The defendants were ordered to pay damages exceeding Reais 5 million US ($989,000+). In 2017, the commercial exploitation of asbestos was banned by the Brazilian Supreme Court. To supersede this verdict, a law was passed by Goiás State to allow asbestos mining for export purposes only. This law is unconstitutional and is the subject of pending legal proceedings. See: Uma vitória a comemorar na luta em defesa das vítimas do amianto [A victory to celebrate in the fight to defend asbestos victims].
 

Asian Bank Bans Asbestos Use in Projects

Jun 14, 2021

A document circulated last week solidified the indication previously given that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) would ban asbestos use in all its projects. On pages 77 & 78 of the AIIB’s Environmental and Social Framework under the heading: Environmental and Social Exclusion List, the text of point 9 excluded from eligibility projects involving: “Production of, trade in, or use of asbestos fibers, whether or not bonded.” In a footnote, it was explained that: “Projects involving disposal of asbestos are not prohibited, provided a suitable asbestos management plan is adopted for such disposal.” See: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Environmental and Social Framework.
 

Early Retirement for Exposed Workers

Jun 14, 2021

At a meeting held last week with members of the Catalan Association of Victims Affected by Asbestos, José Luis Escrivá – Spain’s Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations – promised to “immediately” promote measures which would facilitate access to early retirement for workers who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos, in line with regulations as laid out in Royal Decree 1698/2011 allowing early retirement for professional groups subjected to working conditions of an exceptionally painful, dangerous, toxic or unhealthy nature. See: Jubilación anticipada para trabajadores expuestos al amianto [Social Security undertakes to “immediately” promote early retirement for workers exposed to asbestos].
 

The Sao Paulo: Asbestos Hot Potato

Jun 14, 2021

A meeting of the Aliağa Municipal Council that took place last week continued discussions over the purchase by a Turkish company of an asbestos-contaminated warship formerly belonging to the Brazilian Navy. The vessel is scheduled to be scrapped at a dismantling yard in the Aliağa district of İzmir. The councillors considered a June 2021 proposal submitted to the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to investigate the damage ship-breaking had done to the sea, air, water, soil and ecosystem in the region where operations are carried out. See: CHP'den önerge: 600 ton asbest taşıyan ölüm gemisi ve Aliağa araştırılsın [Proposal from CHP: The death ship carrying 600 tons of asbestos and Aliağa (ship-breaking) should be investigated].
 

Victim’s Verdict in Bilbao

Jun 14, 2021

Two companies – Fundiciones Amboto SA, now defunct, and Foseco Española SA – were found guilty of causing the asbestos-related death of Vicente DAP by Bilbao’s Social Court number 8 last week. According to the Court, the defendants had failed “to comply with Health and Safety legislation for years in relation to the risks of asbestos.” After suffering from ill health for some while, in April 2018 the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) declared him as totally disabled due to asbestosis; he died a few months later. The family of the deceased was awarded €129,645 (US£ 157,000) in compensation. See: Condenan a dos empresas a indemnizar a la familia de un trabajador fallecido por asbestosis [Two companies are ordered to compensate the family of a worker who died of asbestosis].
 

Asbestos Hazard to Military Personnel

Jun 14, 2021

The presence of asbestos products throughout structures used by the Greek military is being addressed by programs such as one conducted under the supervision of the Military Association of the Regional Unit of Chios, a Greek island in the northern Aegean. Following asbestos audits and a Parliamentary intervention by Chios MP Andreas Michailidis, the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos allocated funds to address the contamination and eliminate the asbestos hazard to service personnel. See: Ικανοποίηση για τους στρατιωτικούς της Χίου η απόφαση του ΥΠΕΘΑ σχετικά με τον αμίαντο στις Μονάδες του νησιού [Chios military pleased by decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding asbestos (hazards) in unit (structures) on the island].
 

New Asbestos Criminal Trial

Jun 10, 2021

A historic criminal trial against a former asbestos billionaire began in Italy on June 9, 2021. The case is being heard by the Assize Court of the City of Novara in an auditorium at the University of Novara to accommodate the huge numbers of interested parties including relatives of the deceased. The defendant is facing charges of voluntary homicide with possible wilful misconduct over 392 deaths of workers and members of the public who died from their exposures to Eternit asbestos. See: Vittime dell’amianto, l’università di Novara diventa tribunale per il processo “Eternit bis” [Victims of asbestos, the University of Novara becomes a court for the "Eternit bis" trial].
 

Supreme Court Supports Asbestos Claims!

Jun 10, 2021

The French Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) on June 9, 2021 reversed a 2018 verdict by the Pau Court of Appeal and upheld claims for asbestos anxiety brought by former power station workers. The 89 successful claimants had been exposed to asbestos at the Arjuzanx power plant. Since the plant was closed in 1990, more than 120 cases brought by former workers who had contracted asbestos-related diseases have been recognized, 35 of the claimants have died. See: Amiante: la Cour de cassation reconnaît le droit à l’indemnisation d’ex-salariés d’EDF [Asbestos: the Court of Cassation recognizes the right to compensation for former EDF employees].
 

Asbestos Scheme for Construction Workers

Jun 10, 2021

The Japanese Government announced that a law had been passed at a plenary session of the upper house of the National Diet on June 9, 2021 under which a scheme to compensate asbestos-injured construction workers would be established without the need for victims or their families to take legal action. The government will pay between 5 and 13 million yen (~US$45,660-119,000) per victim and the scheme is due to become operational in 2022. Although self-employed workers are eligible for compensation under this scheme, construction workers who worked outdoors will not be able to bring a claim. See: 建設アスベスト給付金法が成立…1人あたり最大1300万円補償 [Construction asbestos benefit law passed ... Up to 13 million yen compensation per person].
 

Naming Names!

Jun 10, 2021

Campaigners in Turkey have named government ministries and municipalities whose negligence has contributed to the country’s ongoing scandal over asbestos exposures due to demolition or refurbishment of asbestos-containing buildings, dismantling of asbestos-laden ships and continued sale and use of illegal asbestos-containing products. The guilty parties included: the Ministries of: Health; Environment and Urbanization; Industry and Technology; Commerce; Labor and Social Security: Workplaces; National Education; Interior; Transport and Infrastructure. See: Bakanlıklar katil toz asbestle mücadelede sorumluluktan kaçıyor [Ministries evade responsibility in tackling killer powder asbestos].
 

Progress on Asbestos Reporting

Jun 10, 2021

A press release issued on June 7, 2021 on behalf of the Attorney General of the State of Massachusetts Maura Healey broke the news of an agreement reached by a coalition of 11 states and civil society groups with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA agreed to implement procedures instructing chemical companies to report their use and import of asbestos, in order to better assess the country’s capacity to protect citizens from toxic exposures. The Trump administration had challenged a December 2020 court order in support of the coalition’s position; Biden’s EPA agreed to progress the required reporting. See: Coalition Co-led by AG Healey Secures Federal Court Order and Settlement Requiring Asbestos Reporting to Protect Public Health.
 

Chrysotile Sales during the Pandemic

Jun 10, 2021

An upbeat article about the financial outlook of the sole producer of chrysotile asbestos fiber in Kazakhstan, Kostanay Minerals JSC, reported that the company had increased production and exports by, respectively, nearly 20% and 40% in the first quarter of 2021. Growth in usage from Asian countries and increases in the price of metal tiles and sheets were expected to create increased and sustained demand for chrysotile fiber and products. The company’s innovation in production techniques and the adoption of ecological and environmentally-friendly policies were extolled by Erbol Nurkhozhaev, Kostanay’s Chairman of the Board. See: Спрос на хризотил-асбест будет устойчивым в период коронакризиса [Chrysotile Asbestos Demand Will Be Sustainable During The Corona Crisis].
 

Dying for Justice in Japan

Jun 7, 2021

A commentary in the June 5, 2021 issue of the Japan Times reflected on the implications of the May 2021 Supreme Court (SC) judgment which confirmed the negligence of the Japanese Government and building materials manufacturers for, respectively, failing to address the asbestos hazard in a timely fashion and for failing to put warning labels on asbestos-containing products. Due to the tortuous legal process required to obtain this decision, 70% of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit had died of their asbestos injuries before the SC had ruled. The author condemned the mindset of government officials which was one of continued denial and obfuscation. See: The damage done by a lengthy appeals process.
 

Eternit Italy: Update

Jun 7, 2021

On June 9, 2021, another civil trial will begin over the behaviour of the Eternit asbestos company which has been convicted in multiple Italian jurisdictions of causing the deaths of workers and members of the public as well as environmental damage. The proceedings will take place at the Court of Assizes in Novara. The commune of Balzola in the Province of Alessandra is one of the civil parties in the trial referred to as Eternit bis. Commenting on the upcoming trial, Balzola’s Mayor Marco Torriano said: “It is a duty and important to stand alongside the victims also in this second trial for the environmental disaster caused by asbestos.” See: Balzola si costituisce parte civile al processo Eternit Bis [Balzola is a civil party in the Eternit Bis trial].
 

Protesting Local Shipbreaking Plan

Jun 7, 2021

On June 5 – World Environment Day – a rally was held in Democracy Square in the Aliağa district of the Turkish City of İzmir by civil society groups and political parties objecting to the impending arrival of the asbestos-laden São Paulo, a Brazilian warship due to be scrapped at a local shipbreaking yard. Participants carried banners with slogans such as “Aliağa is not the world’s garbage dump” and “We do not want to breathe asbestos” and issued a statement condemning “ecological massacres” in Aliağa and the deadly consequences for human beings as well as the environment. See: Çevre örgütlerinden asbestli gemi sökümüne tepki: Aliağa dünyanın çöplüğü değildir [Reaction from environmental organizations to asbestos ship dismantling: Aliağa is not the world's garbage dump].
 

Solar Panels to Replace Asbestos

Jun 7, 2021

Throughout Israel there are, according to government figures, 85 million square meters of asbestos-cement products, mostly roofing which is on homes, agricultural, industrial, military and public buildings. The toxic material was installed up to 60 years ago and presents an ongoing hazard to health. To address the situation, the Ministry of Environment allocated NIS11 million (US$3.4m) to replace the roofing with solar panels for those without the means to do so themselves. According to the Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel this is a “Win-Win” program “in which we replace carcinogenic asbestos with renewable energy…” See: NIS11 million to remove asbestos roofs in Israel.
 

Asbestos Anxiety Recognized in Lille

Jun 7, 2021

A May 27, 2021 decision by a court in Lille, France awarded compensation for “asbestos anxiety” to 30 former employees of the Normed shipyards which ceased trading in 1989. The Court found that the State had failed to take the steps necessary to protect the workforce from toxic occupational exposures to asbestos. A month earlier, the same court had also supported claims by 32 former Normed employees. Other similar cases are pending. According to retired Normed mechanic Jean-Claude Ghelein, who had worked for the company from 1971 to 1981 and was one of the successful claimants: “Today, 80% of my colleagues are sick or dead.” See [subscription site]: Amiante: l'État de nouveau condamné, l'espoir d'un vrai procès pénal ressurgit [Asbestos: State condemned again, hope of a real criminal trial resurfaces].
 

Toxic Baby Powder

Jun 7, 2021

In the aftermath of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week which resulted in a $2.1 billion compensation award for ovarian cancer victims being upheld, questions were being asked in Turkey about whether the same toxic product implicated in the U.S. cancer case – Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder – was being used in Turkey. A study of baby powder conducted three years ago in Turkey found asbestos fibers in four products. According to this article, appropriate action was taken by the Government at that time. See: Bebek pudrasında ''asbest'' tehlikesi... Türkiye'de kullanılıyor mu? [The danger of “asbestos” in baby powder... Is it used in Turkey?].
 

Stopping Asbestos Imports

Jun 4, 2021

On June 4, 2021, the Australian Border Force (ABF) – a national agency tasked with protecting the country’s borders and trade – announced the launch of a new initiative to identify and stop the import of asbestos-containing building products into Australia. Despite the fact that the use of asbestos was banned in Australia more than a decade ago, some toxic products – including cement fibreboards and panels, pre-fabricated housing kits, parts, components and insulation goods – were, said the ABF, still getting into the country. The onus to ensure that imports were free of all types of asbestos was on importers who could incur substantial fines should they infringe customs regulations. See: ABF target asbestos in imported building products.
 

Government Acts on Asbestos Inequity!

Jun 4, 2021

On June 3, 2021, a bill to provide compensation to Japanese construction workers was passed in the House of Representatives. The legislation has been sent to the House of Councillors. It is expected that the new law will be enacted on June 11, 2021 and a national asbestos compensation scheme for construction workers will become operational on April 1, 2022. Under the terms of the draft bill, some asbestos-injured construction workers and bereaved relatives will be able to access up to  ¥ 13 million (US$118,100) from the government-funded scheme. Workers who were employed in the open air at construction sites will not be eligible. See: 建設アスベスト集団訴訟 救済法案が衆院で可決 [Construction workers asbestos relief bill passed by House of Representatives].
 

Mesothelioma Treatment Approved in EU

Jun 4, 2021

A regulatory decision by the European Commission will allow the use of a new immunotherapy option combining nivolumab and ipilimumab for the treatment of adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma in the 27 EU member states, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The approval was informed by findings from the phase 3 CheckMate-743 trial which showed that treatment with the two drugs resulted in a 26% reduction in the risk of death compared with platinum-based, standard-of-care chemotherapy. See: Nivolumab/Ipilimumab Approved in Europe for Frontline Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.
 

New Treatment Option for Asbestos Cancer

Jun 4, 2021

Health Canada – a governmental agency tasked with protecting the health of Canadians – this week approved the use of a dual immunotherapy treatment to attack targeted malignant pleural mesothelioma tumors by using the body’s immune system. This protocol which uses nivolumab and ipilimumab was the first new systemic treatment for mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, for more than 15 years. See: Health Canada approves OPDIVO® (nivolumab) plus YERVOY® (ipilimumab) as the first and only first-line immunotherapy treatment for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Toxic Talc Victory!

Jun 2, 2021

On June 1, 2021, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of a $2.1 billion Missouri verdict for women who contracted ovarian cancer as a consequence of using J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. The size of the sum awarded was a reflection of the jury’s condemnation of the company’s “particularly reprehensible conduct” and the fact that although J&J had known of the potential harm of the toxic contamination it had “misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.” J&J is facing a further 21,800 toxic talc lawsuits. See: Supreme Court rejects Johnson & Johnson’s appeal of $2 billion penalty in baby powder cancer case.
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Ruling

Jun 2, 2021

Legal developments in Japan last month were reviewed in the article cited below. The author explained the background to a unified Supreme Court claimants’ verdict for asbestos-injured construction workers from Kanagawa, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, 70% of whom had died during the 13 years that the litigation had been proceeding through the courts. The Japanese Government and manufacturers of asbestos-containing building products were held liable for failing to prevent toxic exposures. Claims brought by workers who had been employed out of doors were rejected. See: 建設アスベスト集団訴訟、最高裁で原告勝訴も屋外労働は救済対象外 [Construction asbestos class proceedings, plaintiffs win in Supreme Court, but outdoor labor is not covered by relief].
 

Managing Naturally Occurring Asbestos

Jun 2, 2021

Italy’s National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (Inail) has published a book entitled “Natural asbestos and work environments” which details issues related to the presence of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) in Italy and protocols to safely manage NOA in relation to specific work activities such as the extraction and processing of ornamental stones and crushed stone, excavations for road and railway tunnels, agricultural work, and the removal and disposal/remediation of ballast etc. See: Inail: ambienti di lavoro e rischi dell’amianto di origine naturale [Inail: work environments and risks from asbestos of natural origin].