News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Asbestos Crackdown

Aug 4, 2020

Authorities in the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi will be cracking down on infringements of demolition industry asbestos regulations and the illegal disposal of asbestos waste between August 10 and 28, 2020 according to an announcement on August 4 by the Gyeonggi-do Special Judicial Police Agency. Unlike previous investigations in cities such as Anseong and Siheung, this initiative will target illegal operations throughout the province. At least 4,000 structures in Gyeonggi contain asbestos according to government figures released in June 2020. See:  특사경, 폐석면 무단투기·매립 등 불법 처리행위 집중 수사 [Investigation of illegal handling activities such as special shipments, illegal dumping and recycling of asbestos waste].
 

Asbestos and Lung Cancer

Aug 4, 2020

In a press release issued by the Ministry of Health of Belarus to mark World Lung Cancer Day on August 1, the increase in the incidence of lung cancer in Russia was blamed on multiple factors including tobacco smoking, air pollution and exposure to asbestos. Russia had the 24th highest rate of lung cancer in men in 2018 with an age-standardised rate of 48.2 per 100,000. As the world’s biggest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos, thousands of workers routinely experience occupational exposures to asbestos, an acknowledged cause of lung cancer. See: 1 августа - Всемирный день борьбы с раком легких [August 1 – World Lung Cancer Day].
 

Asbestos Waste: A Toxic Legacy

Aug 4, 2020

Last week, the Spanish trade union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) denounced the widespread dumping of asbestos waste and condemned local authorities for failing to address this public health problem. In the union’s press release, they highlighted illegal dumping of asbestos-cement debris in the southern part of Madrid, and especially in Pinto and Getafe. The CCOO called for the implementation of “strict protocols” to prevent the fly-tipping and urged that local government make this a priority issue. See: Comisiones Obreras alerta sobre el peligro de vertidos de amianto en Pinto [Workers' Commissions warns of the danger of asbestos spills in Pinto].
 

Mesothelioma: Translational Research

Aug 4, 2020

A paper in the July 2020 issue of the American Journal Clinical Cancer Research by researchers from the Medical University of Vienna (see: Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Promoter Mutations Identify a Genomically Defined and Highly Aggressive Human Pleural Mesothelioma Subgroup) provided new prognostic information and suggested targeted treatment strategies for patients with an aggressive and genetically distinct form of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The researchers discovered a mechanism responsible for reactivating the TERT gene – excess production of which activates the telomerase enzyme which promotes growth of cancer cells. See: Researchers identify targeted treatment strategy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
 

Asbestos Alert

Jul 31, 2020

A feature article in a Vietnam news outlet last Sunday (July 26, 2020), highlighted the occupational and public health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos in Vietnam, stating that: “The cancer rate of workers exposed to asbestos was 1.8 times higher than that of non-exposed workers.” Citing copious medical evidence and scientific findings about the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures, the author of this article pointed out the risk posed to people living near asbestos-processing factories. Unfortunately, misinformation is also included in the text which alleged that asbestos when incorporated into asbestos-cement was not “harmful.” See: Nguy cơ chết người từ bụi khí amiăng [Deadly risk from asbestos].
 

Asbestos Protest!

Jul 31, 2020

During a July 29, 2020 fact-finding trip of Mikhail Degtyarev – Acting Governor of Khabarovsk Krai (one of Russia’s largest territorial units) – residents of  Komsomolsk City mounted a protest outside the town hall over the health hazard posed by their living in asbestos-riddled apartments in the “Berlin” neighborhood. The demonstrators asked for the Governor’s intervention in helping them secure alternative accommodation, free from asbestos, rats and fleas. The toxic properties were constructed as temporary housing for builders in the 1980s; much of the material used came from Germany. See: Жители Комсомольска-на-Амуре пожаловались Дегтяреву на крыс и асбест [Residents of Komsomolsk-on-Amur complained to Degtyarev about rats and asbestos].
 

Asbestos Mobilization

Jul 31, 2020

Former employees of the Matra firm, based in Romorantin, Central France, have formed an association in collaboration with the CGT trade union to support asbestos victims and campaign for the recognition and compensation of their occupational illnesses. In November, 2019, the Primary Health Insurance Fund recognized the asbestos-related disease of a former Matra employee as occupationally caused. During its heyday, the company had been involved in the manufacture of cars, bicycles, aeronautics and weaponry. See: Romorantin: l’amiante, nouveau combat pour les ex-Matra [Romorantin: asbestos, a new fight for the ex-Matra (workers)].
 

Asbestos at University

Jul 31, 2020

Another member of the staff of the University of Montreal (UoM) has succumbed to an occupationally-caused asbestos-related disease. Computer scientist Yves Charland died, aged 73, on November 10, 2019 from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. For 20 years, he had worked in the physics department in a building insulated with asbestos and where asbestos removal work took place from 2011 to 2014. Three other employees of the UoM also contracted mesothelioma from workplace exposures: former secretary Sandra Ohayon, emeritus professor of sociology Jean Renaud and a deceased janitor employed at UoM from 1966 to 1968. See: L’amiante derrière la mort d’un ex-employé de l’UdeM, selon la CNESST [Asbestos behind the death of a former UoM employee, according to the CNESST].
 

Victim’s Verdict

Jul 29, 2020

In a scathing verdict handed down in the High Court on July 27, 2020, which lambasted the behaviour of legal advisors working for the Ministry of Defence, Judge Allan Gore QC found for the widow of shipyard worker Bhanu Sivaji who died in 2015 from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure at the Sembawang naval dockyard in Singapore between 1953 and 1968. Mr. Sivaji’s place of work had been operated by the Ministry of Defence. The Judge, who was highly critical of the delays in bringing the case to court and the elevated legal costs which ensued, granted the Claimant’s applications to amend the Particulars of Claim and the Claim Form. See: Shiji SIVAJI vs. Ministry of Defence.
 

Asbestos Protests in Croatia

Jul 29, 2020

On Saturday night (July 25, 2020) scores of local people took part in a public rally in the “most neglected district” of Zadar, Croatia to protest the depositing of 78 tonnes of asbestos in their town. The asbestos had been stripped from a training ship, the Glaleb – formerly the official yacht of the late President of Yugoslavia Marshall Tito – and dumped in the town between May 6 and June 18, 2020 from the port of Rijeka. Another demonstration is being planned for Saturday, August 1, at 9 a.m. during which participants will walk through the town demanding their right to live a life free from toxic exposures. See: AZBEST U DVORIŠTU Hocemo igralište, a ne otrov! [ASBESTOS IN THE YARD We want a playground, not poison!].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jul 29, 2020

A July 24, 2020 article reported that Portugal’s Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues reconfirmed a June 2020 promise that the government would pay 100% of all asbestos removal costs to decontaminate the country’s schools; a budget of €60 million had been allocated for this work. Municipal and regional authorities will not be expected, said the Minister, to contribute to the costs of the remediation effort. According to Rodrigues although 450,000 square meters of asbestos had been removed from school premises over the last four years "there is much more to be done.” See: Ministro da Educação diz que Governo pagará 100% da retirada do amianto das escolas [Education Minister says Government will pay 100% of cost for asbestos removal from schools].
 

August 2020: Truth or Lies?

Jul 29, 2020

On July 24, 2020, Quebec’s Office of Public Hearings on the Environment announced that its report on the investigation into “The inventory and management of asbestos and asbestos mining residues” had been submitted to the Minister of the Environment Benoit Charrette and would be uploaded to the internet within 15 days. The objective of the enquiry was to assess a multiplicity of asbestos-related issues in Quebec with a focus on their impact on public and occupational health. After so many years of denial and obfuscation, asbestos activists await the report with a good deal of trepidation. See: Amiante: le rapport du BAPE rendu public d’ici 15 jours [Asbestos: the BAPE report to be made public within 15 days].
 

Asbestos Tourist Town in the Urals

Jul 27, 2020

In an online article about unusual but rewarding tourist destinations in Russia, a visit to the Uralasbest asbestos mining town in the Urals comes highly recommended. Guided tours of the eight kilometer wide quarry, the factory and the museum are organized by the company. Reading like a corporate press release, the article reported that: “The Ural enterprise is one of the largest and oldest producers of chrysotile asbestos in the world,” accounting for 21% of annual global output and 41% of Russian output every year. Eighty per cent of Russian chrysotile production is exported. See: Туристам расскажут, кем работал на уральском заводе президент Тайваня [Tourists will be told about when the Taiwan President worked at the Ural plant].
 

More Toxic Talc!

Jul 27, 2020

Last week, BASF SE – the world’s biggest chemical maker – and the New York-based law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP agreed to jointly pay a combined $72.5 million to settle claims that they had hidden evidence that certain talc products, sourced from the company’s talc mine in Vermont, had contained asbestos, in an effort to defeat thousands of lawsuits, according to papers filed in a federal court in New Jersey. The total value of the agreement is almost $100 million when legal fees and others costs are added. See: BASF, Cahill Law Firm to Pay $72.5 Million in Talc-Scam Deal.
 

2032 Deadline in Catalonia!

Jul 27, 2020

The Commission for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia, established in 2019 to address the region’s multiple asbestos challenges, met for the second time in July, 2020 to agree on a plan of action for 2020-21 as part of a coordinated program to make the territory asbestos-free by 2032. In the short-term, the Commission will develop an asbestos hazard training plan for public administration staff, work to raise public asbestos awareness via the development of online resources, and prioritize the removal of asbestos-containing products from schools. See: Aprovat el Pla nacional per a l’erradicació de l’amiant de Catalunya per al 2032 [Approval of the National Plan for the Eradication of Asbestos in Catalonia by 2032].
 

Mesothelioma Care in Kent

Jul 27, 3030

It was announced last week that Toni Fleming had been appointed to fill a new post for a specialist nurse in the asbestos cancer hotspot of East Kent. Nurse Fleming – who has a background in the treatment of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients – was named the Mesothelioma UK clinical nurse specialist for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust. This post is being fully funded for a period of two years by the Mavis Nye Foundation, set up in 2017 by the UK’s longest surviving mesothelioma patient. See: New asbestos-related cancer nurse specialist for East Kent.
 

Conviction of Australian Politician

Jul 27, 2020

Following a protracted legal battle between Grafil Pty Ltd – owned by the former Mayor of Port Stephens Bruce MacKenzie – and the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Grafil was found guilty by the Land and Environment Court of running an illegal waste dump. The ruling could result in a penalty of up to $12 million in asbestos waste clean-up costs and fines, even though only 634.64 grams of asbestos were detected. “Whilst that might,” said Justice Preston “be ‘incredibly minor’ in comparison to the upper estimate of 44,000 tonnes of materials in the stockpiles, it nevertheless was sufficient to cause severe risk to human health…” See: Former Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie's family company, Grafil, and his son Robert found guilty in $12 million illegal waste dump case.
 

Asbestos Update 2020

Jul 23, 2020

On July 23, 2020, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad- APHEDA held a one hour webinar which addressed contemporary issues relating to continuing asbestos use in India and Indonesia during the Covid-19 pandemic. Using ZOOM technology, Pooja Gupta from the Indian Ban Asbestos Network and Muchamed Darisman from the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network gave presentations detailing current levels of asbestos use and strategies being pursued to raise asbestos awareness and counteract industry pressure on governments and regional bodies. Other speakers were APHEDA’s Kate Lee and Liam O’Brien from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. See: Asbestos Ban Update: Campaigning in a global crisis.
 

Metro Refurbishment: Asbestos Risks

Jul 23, 2020

Following a morning press conference held in Seoul, Korea by the Environmental Health Citizens’ Center (EHCC) – an NGO which brings together experts, activists and victims to address the pollution crisis in Asia – on July 20, 2020, journalists were invited on an accompanied tour to City Hall Station to observe first-hand the dangers posed by the liberation of tremolite asbestos during refurbishment work on Metro Line 2 in the Seoul Subway. EHCC spokesmen urged that all work at this site be stopped immediately and that an emergency safety investigation be undertaken as a matter of priority. See: 환경보건시민센터 활동 언론보도 [Press Release from Environmental Health Citizen Center].
 

Asbestos: No Thanks!

Jul 23, 2020

A public inquiry in the French town of Kerlaz in the northwest of the country which began on June 19 will end on July 29. The focus of the inquiry is whether the Guenneau Company should be allowed to increase its storage operation for the disposal of inert waste and bound asbestos at its site in the Merdy Quarry. Local people have been vocal in their opposition based on concerns over increases in environmental pollution and volume of traffic. The company is requesting authorization to operate the site for another 30 years. See: Des riverains inquiets par le stockage d’amiante à Kerlaz [Local residents worried about asbestos storage in Kerlaz].
 

Asbestos Cancer Cluster

Jul 21, 2020

A thirty-five year old building in Braga, Portugal (a town 360 kilometers from Lisbon) may be responsible for a cluster of asbestos cancer cases amongst police staff at the Braga Criminal Investigation Department. The building, which has never been refurbished, houses the headquarters of the Judiciary Police. There have been 12 cancer deaths over the last decade amongst Judicial Police inspectors from the Braga department; a 2016 report by the Union of Criminal Investigation Staff sent to the Ombudsman led to an inspection of the premises on July 20, 2020. See: Investigada ligação entre amianto e cancros na PJ Braga [Investigation of link between asbestos and cancers at PJ Braga].
 

Subsidizing Asbestos Waste Reclamation

Jul 21, 2020

Following an investment of $25.9m by the Quebec National Assembly in a project to reclaim magnesium –intended for use by the automotive and aeronautical industries – from decades of waste produced by the mining of asbestos, another government subsidy of ~$800,000 was announced last week by Quebec’s Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet for the training of 92 workers by the Alliance Magnesium company. See: Le ministre Jean Boulet annonce près de 800 000 $ à Alliance Magnésium pour la création et le maintien d'emplois en Estrie [CPG Minister Jean Boulet announces nearly $800,000 to Alliance Magnesium for the creation and maintenance of jobs in Estrie].
 

Asbestos: One Family’s Story

Jul 21, 2020

An interview with author Alberto Prunetti about his book “Asbestos,” discussed the background to the work: the trauma experienced by his father Renato Prunetti – an Italian worker who died in 2004 aged 59 as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos – and members of his family. The author described the insensitivity of medical practitioners and the opacity of the legal system, how only though persistence of his family was permission finally obtained in 2010 – 6 years after he had died – for Renato to retire prematurely due to occupational asbestos exposure. Versions of Alberto's book in Spanish and Catalan are available titled Hoja de Lata and Tigre de Paper, respectively. See: El amianto es un asesino en serie que goza de la protección de los tribunals [Asbestos is a serial killer which enjoys the protection of the courts].
 

Quebec’s First Asbestos Strike

Jul 21, 2020

An exhibit in June 2020 to mark the centenary of the end of Canada’s first national internment and its effects on the Ukrainian-Canadian community included details of the first asbestos mining strike in Quebec which was led by immigrant workers from Ukraine, Nicolas Kachuk and Ivan Chaprun. Harsh conditions and reduced wages were the causes for the strike at the Black Lake chrysotile (white) asbestos mine which started on October 8, 1915. Due to the widespread backing of the stoppage – the strike was supported by 2,500 workers – the company gave in to the demands and reinstated the wages for the asbestos miners to the levels of August, 1914. See: Exhibit remembers internees sent to Black Lake asbestos mines.
 

“Invisible” Asbestos Taskmasters

Jul 16, 2020

A June 10, 2020 complaint to Google LLC by the Kusto Group, “a Kazakh multinational with extensive interests in the chrysotile [asbestos] industry” cited a total of 6 instances of copyright infringement by the Australian website: New Matilda and the website of the Colombian Asbestos Free Foundation. The subject of the complaints was the unapproved use on two occasions of a photograph of Daniel Kunin, Kusto’s Managing Director, and on four occasions of a photograph of Yerkin Tatishev, Kusto’s CEO. See: DMCA (Copyright) Complaint to Google.