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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Post-Blast Asbestos Disaster

Apr 12, 2021

Months after blasts devastated the Port of Beirut, nothing has been done about the hazard posed by asbestos debris collected in the aftermath of the explosion. According to environment specialist Samar Khalil, asbestos-containing waste was dumped in the Achrafieh district of Beirut on a vacant lot “located a few meters from apartment buildings and a sports ground popular with the inhabitants of the district.” MP Imad Wakim deplored the informal asbestos dumpsites in the Karm Al-Zaitoun neighborhood of the city and castigated the municipal authorities, NGOs, UN agencies and the national government for failing to address the deadly situation. See (subscription site): Que faire des débris du port de Beyrouth contaminés par l’amiante? [What to do with the debris of the port of Beirut contaminated by asbestos?].

Legal Victory for Power Workers

Apr 12, 2021

On March 31, 2021, asbestos anxiety claims were recognized by the Paris Court of Appeal for two hundred workers from the French electricity generating company EDF, each of whom was awarded €10,000 (US$12,000); the plaintiffs had worked at EDF power stations in Loire-sur-Rhône, Saint-Ouen, Vitry, Champagne-sur-Oise, Creil, Strasbourg, Blénod and Porcheville. The previous month, the court had recognized asbestos anxiety claims from 21 operatives from the EDF Porcheville site. All the claimants are suffering from distress caused by knowledge of the toxic workplace exposures they had experienced. See: Amiante: environ 200 ex-salariés d’EDF indemnisés pour un préjudice d’anxiété [Asbestos: around 200 former EDF employees compensated for anxiety damage].

Update: Asbestos Ban Bill

Apr 12, 2021

The first reading of a bill (No. 4142) to ban asbestos was approved by the Ukraine Parliament. The draft legislation prohibited: “The production and use of asbestos, regardless of the type, as well as asbestos-containing products and materials, is prohibited in technological processes and in the implementation of construction and installation work at any facilities.” According to Mikhail Radutsky, Chair of Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee for Health, Medical Care and Medical Insurance, the ban legislation is facing stiff opposition from the “asbestos lobby.” See: Законопроект о системе общественного здоровья ко второму чтению получил около 900 поправок – Радуцкий [Public health system bill receives about 900 amendments to the second reading – Radutsky].

Alert: Asbestos Water Pipes

Apr 12, 2021

The danger posed by the delivery of water through asbestos-cement water pipes in Sakarya – a Turkish Province on the Black Sea coast – was highlighted last week by Sakarya politician Ecevit Keleş who stated that the problem, which was a serious issue affecting public health, needed to be addressed urgently. He called for a collaborative effort by every level of government, from Mayor Ekrem Yüce to President Erdogan and including municipal, provincial and national health and administrative authorities, to prioritize the replacement of the toxic pipes with safer alternatives. See: Keleş, Sakarya'da asbestli borularının olduğunu ifade etti! [Keles stated that they have asbestos pipes in Sakarya!].

Free Asbestos Medical Care

Apr 12, 2021

A new healthcare program which will start treating patients at high risk of contracting diseases from toxic exposures in asbestos hotspots – near asbestos factories, mines, development sites, or areas with a high density of asbestos roofing – was announced this month by the Asbestos Environmental Health Center at Cheonan Hospital. As of November 8, 2021, members of the public from the South Korean areas of Anyang, Gyeonggi-do, Ulsan Ulju-gun, Cheongju-si, Chungbuk, Pyeongtaek-si, Gyeonggi-do and Nowon-gu (Seoul) will be eligible for free medical check-ups and support. See: 순천향대천안병원, 석면피해우려 지역 실태 조사 [Sooncheonhyang University Cheonan Hospital surveys the actual condition of areas concerned with asbestos damage].

Interruption of Asbestos Remediation Work

Apr 12, 2021

The efforts of contractors employed to replace asbestos-cement water pipes at a site in Veria, Macedonia, Northern Greece were interrupted by the discovery of human remains on April 7, 2021. The on-duty archaeologist reported the presence of the human skeleton at the excavation to the authorities. Upon a superficial examination, it was believed that the remains belonged to a young person who had died 1,000 years ago. Work at the site was temporarily suspended. See: Βρέθηκε ανθρώπινος σκελετός σε “αρχαίο” τάφο κατά τη διάρκεια εργασιών στο κέντρο της Βέροιας [Human skeleton found in "ancient" tomb during work in the center of Veria].

Ukraine’s Asbestos War

Apr 9, 2021

As Ukraine Parliamentarians work to protect citizens from potentially deadly exposures to asbestos by adopting legislation banning its use, industry stakeholders have gone on the media offensive to incite support for asbestos-containing building products by alleging that the new law would force the removal of toxic roofing and that asbestos-free products would be prohibitively expensive. A one-sided pro-asbestos article, which categorized the situation as a war between medicine vs economics, warned that “Panic is already rising in the villages.” See: В Украине хотят запретить использовать шифер и еще ряд стройматериалов. Заставят ли людей менять крыши? [In Ukraine, they want to ban the use of slate and a number of other building materials. Will people be forced to change roofs?].

Beirut: Asbestos Update

Apr 9, 2021

According to expert Samar Khalil, the hazard posed by asbestos contamination after the 2020 explosions in Beirut remains unaddressed. “Asbestos was,” she said “present in a large part of the buildings in the Port of Beirut where it had been commonly used as roofing and wall covering materials in warehouses.” While most of the asbestos found in the debris was chrysotile, there were also some samples which contained crocidolite. Neither the national government nor local authorities have accepted responsibility for disposing of the toxic debris. See: Samar Khalil: « Aucune disposition n’a encore été prise pour régler le problème de l’amiante dans les débris de l’explosion du Port » [Samar Khalil: “No provision has yet been made to resolve the problem of asbestos in the debris of the Port explosion”].

Memorial to Asbestos & Other Victims

Apr 9, 2021

Since 2016, the Environmental Health Citizen Center in South Korea has marked Arbor Day with an activity to honor environmental victims with a tree-planting ceremony. The Center’s efforts on April 5, 2021 were reported on the front-page of two newspapers along with photographs of participants digging holes and planting saplings in Noeul Park, Seoul. The victims being remembered included people who had died of exposures to asbestos and radon as well as those who had been fatally injured through their use of humidifier disinfectants. See: 식목일, 환경피해자 ‘추모의 숲’ 나무심기 [Arbor Day, planting trees in the ‘memorial forest’ for environmental victims].

Asbestos Plan Unfair to Claimants

Apr 9, 2021

Attorneys representing US asbestos claimants have expressed serious concerns over a bankruptcy deal proposed by Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMC) which is facing hundreds of US asbestos lawsuits; if the deal were approved, CMC would pay $130 million into a personal injury claims trust in return for protection from future claims. During the 1990s, CMC had been taken over by Imerys Talc America, a supplier to Johnson & Johnson. Approval of the Chapter 11 filing is being delayed by Delaware Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein who is demanding supplemental information on how the settlement would affect the payment of asbestos injury claims in the future. See: Cyprus Mines insolvency deal under scrutiny in US.

Asbestos Cancer during A Pandemic

Apr 9, 2021

Surveys of mesothelioma patients and their carers, and of mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists, examined the impact of the pandemic on patients’ lives. The researchers found that mesothelioma patients and their carers were “disproportionately affected” in a variety of ways including: interruption of treatment and examinations, disruption of communication with healthcare teams, lack of clarity over shielding and additional emotional and psychological burdens. Recommendations for improvements included: prioritizing the reinstatement of all mesothelioma services, offering patients face-to-face appointments, providing support through regular “check-in” calls from healthcare providers, etc. See: Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with mesothelioma and their carers.

Alert 2021: Asbestos Hazard on Ships

Apr 9, 2021

Despite International Maritime Organization regulations banning the use of asbestos-containing products on board ships’ as of January 1 2011 (see: IMO Circular 1374), more than 65% of vessels still contain asbestos. The toxic products are found not only on older ships but also on newbuilds which are delivered with asbestos-free declarations. The composition of spare parts is also problematic as “a gasket that is classified asbestos-free in Singapore or the US may not be considered asbestos-free in, say Australia, New Zealand or France…” See: More Than 65% Of All Ships Are Operating With Systems Containing Asbestos.

Sad Announcement

Apr 8, 2021

On April 2, 2021, respected occupational medicine specialist and civil society activist Dr Angelo Mancini died aged 68 at Novara hospital in the Italian town of Casale Monferrato. Dr Mancini had been at the forefront of efforts to reclaim asbestos-contaminated sites in the town and was a key advisor to the Turin public prosecutor who brought the largest asbestos class action against international defendants for the damage their decisions had done to factory workers, family members and local residents in Italian cities. See: Addio ad Angelo Mancini, il trinese pioniere della lotta all'amianto [Farewell to Angelo Mancini, the Trino pioneer in the fight against asbestos].

Thousands More US Asbestos Tragedies

Apr 8, 2021

An April 3 expose detailed the tragedy caused by toxic exposures of up to 6,000 workers who had been employed at a Minnesota factory producing mineral board and ceiling tile products using asbestos. The plant belonged to the Conwed company – formerly known as the Wood Conversion Co. – and was located in the town of Cloquet; although it closed in 1985, members of its workforce continue to contract deadly diseases caused by workplace exposures to asbestos between 1958 and 1974, when the company ceased using asbestos. The article focuses on the case of Gene “Randy” Backe, who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma last year. See: Minnesota factory workers feel aftermath of asbestos 36 years later.

Mobilization in Mont-Saint-Vincent

Apr 8, 2021

Members of the group “Preserve Mont Saint Vincent,” who are protesting plans to dump asbestos in their area, took their campaign to the Cluny outdoor market on April 3, 2021, having lobbied shoppers at the Montceau market the week before. This week their efforts yielded a further 315 signatures to a petition, which has, to date, attracted 1,152 signatures. The petitioners are urging the municipality of Mont-Saint-Vincent to reject the application of the Rougeot company to bury asbestos waste in the Bourgueuil quarry and to adopt a policy based on “a sustainable management of resources and the environment.” See: Non à l’amiante – Après le marché de Montceau, celui de Cluny [No to asbestos – After the Montceau market, the Cluny market].

Failure to Enforce Asbestos Regulations

Apr 8, 2021

Although asbestos use was banned in Turkey in 2010 given the widespread use of asbestos products before then, the speed of urban regeneration and the failure of municipalities to enforce regulations, toxic exposures to asbestos continue to occur on a routine basis during renovation and demolition work. The article cited below provides data highlighting the failure of Kartal Municipality to protect workers and local people from asbestos liberated by unsafe working practices; of the 567 buildings earmarked for development between 2018 and 2020, mandatory asbestos regulations were obeyed at only 73 sites. See: Kentsel dönüşümün yoğunca yaşandığı ülkemizde asbest sorunu büyüyor [Growing problem of asbestos in urban transformation in Turkey].

Milan Court: Victim’s Verdict

Apr 8, 2021

Last week, a court in Milan recognized the culpability of Sacfem – formerly one of the largest employers in Arezzo, eastern Tuscany – and awarded substantial damages (€600,000+/ US$705,000) to the family of a worker who had died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma contracted as a result of occupational exposures to asbestos. Sacfem, which closed 40 years ago, initially specialized in the production of railway carriages and then branched out into the production of building materials, at its height employing 1,000 people. See: Ucciso dall’amianto: maxi-risarcimento a ex operaio Sacfem [Killed by asbestos: maxi-compensation to a former Sacfem worker (subscription site)].

José María Íñigo Case Update

Apr 8, 2021

An interview with Andrea Peiró, a lawyer for José María Íñigo's family, explained the multiple stages of the legal case against the deceased broadcaster’s former employer and the repercussions of a recent judicial ruling in the family’s favor: “We have won the first battle… which is the sentence in the first instance. The opposing party has the possibility of appealing it before the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid, but we are very hopeful because the sentence has been very good, its content is very positive for us. It is very well founded.” See: José María Íñigo: hablamos con la abogada de su familia [José María Íñigo: we spoke with his family's lawyer].

Russian Asbestos-Free Building Materials

Apr 7, 2021

The economic, social and political clout that Russian asbestos vested interests have long exercised on the national asbestos dialogue seems to be crumbling day by day. The news just released of a range of asbestos-free building products which will be manufactured and sold in Russia marks a turning point in the world’s largest asbestos-producing country. The new material, which is based on Calcium Silcate, was developed by Russian technical experts via a pilot project in China. Manufacturing of the products will begin in Russia in 2025. See: ИзолМакс — огнезащита нового поколения [IzolMax – new generation fire protection].

Asbestos Alert in Seville

Apr 7, 2021

In reply to enquiries made by Esperanza Gómez, the coordinator of Más País (More Country – a political platform formed in 2019) Andalucía, the Technical Office of Municipal Buildings of Seville City Council, admitted that it did not have a list of buildings containing asbestos despite having agreed in 2016 to begin the process of eradicating asbestos from educational structures. Gomez raised concerns over the incredibly slow progress to decontaminate schools and protect children from asbestos exposures saying: “We cannot have our boys and girls in schools with materials that affect their health.” See: Sevilla in Andalucia Spain Admits There is ‘No List’ Of Buildings Containing Deadly Asbestos.

Asbestos Hazard in Chlorine Production

Apr 7, 2021

For seven years, trade unions and asbestos victims have been waiting for a legal case to be brought over asbestos exposures at the Chloralp company’s chemical plant in Pont-de-Claix, France. Asbestos fibers in a liquid solution were routinely used to seal crack in equipment used for the production of chlorine despite a national asbestos ban. In 2005, this practice was described by a labor inspector as “totally unacceptable.” The inspector also noted that the “liquid asbestos” was unsafely stored in poorly labelled and leaking containers. Between 2002 and 2005, more than 800 kg of asbestos were used at the plant. See: Amiante: Sept ans d'inertie judiciaire, des dizaines de morts [Asbestos: Seven years of judicial inertia, dozens of deaths].

Prison Sentence for Asbestos Crimes?

Apr 7, 2021

On March 26, 2021, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that Gunay Yakup – an asbestos abatement operative and supervisor – had admitted involvement in an illegal conspiracy to remove asbestos at a former IBM site in Kingston, New York in 2016. Due to time constraints imposed upon him by other conspirators, Yakup took the decision to violate mandatory practices for the stripping, bagging, removal and disposal of asbestos as stipulated under the Clean Air Act. Sentencing will take place on July 27; the maximum penalty for these crimes is five years in prison. See: Abatement Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Removing Asbestos.

Changes to Asbestos Regulation

Apr 7, 2021

As of May 1, 2021, WorkSafe Queensland is increasing the restrictions on work with asbestos-containing material. From then, low density asbestos fibre board (LDB), also known as asbestos insulating board, will be classified as a friable material in all circumstances. As a result, LDB can only legally be removed by a class A asbestos removal licence holder. These changes affect class B asbestos removal licence holders as well as business and tradespeople who carry out maintenance and service work involving LDB installed in buildings, plant or equipment. New regulations will be in force for: repairing damaged LDB, painting LDB, drilling a hole in LDB, moving LDB ceiling tiles, installing or removing fixtures or fittings. See: Changes to asbestos regulation.

Providing Support for Asbestos Victims

Apr 7, 2021

A loophole in Australian regulations means that whilst workers who were exposed to asbestos can claim compensation should they contract asbestos-related diseases, people who were non-occupationally exposed to asbestos cannot. One such case is that of 54-year-old James Wallner who has contracted the signature asbestos cancer mesothelioma from having lived in a Canberra home with asbestos-containing “Mr. Fluffy” insulation. As a result of publicity generated by the case, the Australian government is, said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, now exploring options to provide compensation for victims of non-occupational asbestos exposures. See: Commonwealth takes first steps towards new compensation fund for asbestos victims.

Financial Woes of Asbestos Company

Apr 6, 2021

Political lobbying at the highest level in Russia has pleaded for government action to bolster the finances of the country’s major asbestos producer Uralasbest, which a politician from the Sverdlovsk region said on March 30, was carrying an onerous tax burden by being classified as as a “mining and chemical raw materials” company rather than a producer of “non-metallic raw materials used mainly in the construction industry.” See: Мишустина попросили спасти свердловский завод от высоких налогов. Этого ждет весь город [Mishustin was asked to save the Sverdlovsk plant from high taxes. This is what the whole city is waiting for].