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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Addressing a Toxic Legacy

Feb 8, 2023

Accepting that it is not possible to completely control toxic exposures to asbestos at work and at home, the Government of Vietnam took steps to protect the population by banning the use of amphiboles (1998) and making plans to end the use of chrysotile (white) asbestos in building products. In 2020, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health identified 210 cases of mesothelioma; many cases went undetected and experts believe that that there could be 11,500 cases of mesothelioma by 2030, if action is not taken. See: Thông tin về Amiang và bệnh ung thư [Information about Asbestos and Cancer].

Judge Rules on the Sinking of the São Paulo

Feb 6, 2023

It was reported on February 2, 2023, that an attempt to obtain an injunction from the Federal Court of Pernambuco to prevent the Brazilian Navy from sinking the former aircraft carrier the São Paulo in the Atlantic Ocean had failed. Although Federal Judge Ubiratan de Couto Maurício of the 9th Pernambuco Court agreed that the sinking would cause environmental damage, he said that the extent of the damage was not known. He ordered that the vessel be sunk 350 km off the Brazilian coast, at a depth of approximately 5,000 meters and outside of Environmental Protection Areas where there were no documented submarine cables. See: Marinha confirma plano de afundar navio feito de amianto [Navy confirms plan to sink ship containing asbestos].

Hypocrites and Liars!

Feb 6, 2023

The author of the article referenced below which was uploaded to a Russian website could not resist the temptation to exploit news about the sinking by the Brazilian Navy of its asbestos-laden flagship to bolster the image of home-grown chrysotile asbestos, remarking that: “According to scientists, amphibole has a very harmful effect, unlike chrysotile asbestos.” Before Western sanctions were imposed in retaliation for Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Russia had been the world’s largest producer and supplier of chrysotile asbestos. See: Бразилия потопила свой последний авианосец: чем это грозит экологии [Brazil sank its last aircraft carrier: how does this threaten the environment].

Supreme Court Victory

Feb. 6, 2023

The Labor Section of Italy’s Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) issued a victims’ verdict allowing 11 asbestos claimants to submit applications for early retirement and/or government benefits even though they had missed government deadlines. The plaintiffs had worked for 10 to 20 years in a shipyard where they had been routinely exposed to asbestos. Two lower courts had rejected the arguments advanced by the victims’ legal team. The case will now be returned to Rome’s Court of Appeal for further consideration. See: La Cassazione apre nuovi scenari per la maggiorazione per amianto della pensione [The Cassation opens up new scenarios for increased pension for asbestos [exposure]].

Wittenoom Remembered

Feb 6, 2023

The review cited below is of a play premiered in Melbourne, entitled Wittenoom, by Mary Anne Butler about a mother and daughter who lived in the notorious Australian mining town of Wittenoom in the 1940s. Highlighted were the excellent performances, strength of the writing and positive contribution of the sound design, with the author concluding that “the story of Wittenoom is a stark reminder of the deceptive and immoral practices large corporations maintain in the name of profit…The show draws themes of grief, memory and injustice together in an undeniably moving way. It is a powerful and compelling requiem for the people whose lives have been destroyed.” See: More than 2,000 people from Wittenoom died of asbestos-related diseases. A powerful and compelling requiem brings their story to the stage.

Asbestos Fly-tipping in Catalonia

Feb 6, 2023

Following the discovery of two tonnes of asbestos-containing construction debris illegally dumped near a wind farm in Tarragona, a port city in Spain’s Catalonia region, members of the Civil Guard opened an investigation to identify the perpetrators. The Civil Guard notified the Waste Agency of Catalonia to arrange the removal of the toxic waste and informed the Tortosa Court of the facts pending the commencement of legal action. See: Descubierto un vertedero ilegal de dos toneladas de uralita con amianto en El Perelló [An illegal dump of two tons of asbestos-containing uralite discovered in El Perelló].

Legal Battle over São Paulo Rages On

Feb 2, 2023

After the Brazilian Navy announced plans to sink the toxic hot potato which is the São Paulo – the retired aircraft carrier and Brazil’s former flagship – the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) filed a public civil action before the 2nd Federal Court of Pernambuco seeking an injunction to stop the ship being scuttled. The MPF told the court that the sinking of the São Paulo which was scheduled for February 1 could cause “irreparable damage to the marine environment, the public health of the population and irreversible health consequences.” See: MPF pede à Justiça que proíba Marinha de afundar porta-aviões aposentado impedido de atracar no Brasil [MPF asks Justices to prohibit Navy from sinking retired aircraft carrier prevented from docking in Brazil].

Toxic Talc Battle

Feb 2, 2023

On January 30, 2023, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit rejected Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) latest attempt to off-load tens of thousands of asbestos cases by filing a contentious bankruptcy. In its 56-page verdict, the judges wrote: “LTL (the subsidiary into which the asbestos claims were dumped), at the time of its (bankruptcy) filing, was highly solvent with access to cash to meet comfortably its liabilities.” The personal injury claims were made by people who alleged that the cancers they contracted had been caused by use of J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talc-based baby powder. See: U.S. court rejects J&J bankruptcy strategy for thousands of talc lawsuits.

Shipbreaking Audit 2022

Feb 2, 2023

Data published on February 1, 2023 by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform detailed figures for the scrapping of ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units in 2022. Of the 443 vessels scrapped, 292 were dismantled on dirty and dangerous tidal beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The worst dumper country of the year was China followed by Brazil, whose state-owned oil company Petrobras sent four of its old tankers and two of its floating platforms for dismantling on South Asian beaches in 2022, reaching a total of 34 vessels in the last decade. See: Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2022.

Navy’s São Paulo Solution

Jan 31, 2023

Despite protests by the Brazilian Minister of the Environment Marina Silva, the Navy announced plans to sink the hull of the São Paulo in the sea off the Brazilian coast. The vessel became something of an international toxic hot potato after the Turkish Government rescinded permission for it to be scrapped in a Turkish shipyard because of concerns over the presence of asbestos and other toxic materials. Since the ship was returned to Brazil, provincial and government authorities have refused permission for it to dock. In its day, the São Paulo was Brazil largest warship with capacity for 40 aircraft. See: Marinha quer afundar casco de porta-aviões barrado pela Turquia [Navy plans to sink hull of aircraft carrier barred by Turkey].

Asbestos Sector Flourishing

Jan 31, 2023

The “article” cited below reads like a press release from the Kostanay Minerals JSC, Kazakhstan’s sole asbestos producer. Amongst the facts reported were: total output from the company was 17.5 million tonnes (t) of white asbestos; annual production was 250,000t; 95% of all products were sent to Uzbekistan, India, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, China, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan. The imposition by Western countries of sanctions on Russian trade, led Kostanay to replace Russian ports with ports in Georgia and Lithuania. The fact that asbestos causes cancer was not mentioned. See: Костанайские карьеры: как добывают асбест на одном из крупнейших месторождений в мире [Kostanay quarries: mining one of the largest deposits of asbestos in the world].

Asbestos Eradication Program

Jan 31, 2023

On January 28, 2023, the South Korean Province of Jeonbuk-do announced plans to address asbestos contamination in 90 daycare centers. The twenty-seven buildings worst affected – which have recorded high levels of airborne asbestos fibers – will be demolished this year. By the end of 2024, asbestos will be eradicated from the remaining properties. According to a provincial official: “We started the project to prevent exposure of sensitive infants and toddlers to harmful substances.” See: 전북도, 올해 어린이집 27개소 석면 자재 철거 지원 [Jeonbuk-do supports removal of asbestos materials from 27 daycare centers this year].

Asbestos Eradication Program: Update

Jan 31, 2023

Delays were announced in the start of a massive asbestos eradication program scheduled for the Badia del Vallès housing project in Barcelona. According to a spokesperson for the local government, no specialist contractor had been found who was capable of undertaking all the tasks involved to remove and/or encapsulate toxic products in the 5,372 apartments and infrastructure. A sum of €4.5 million (US$4.9m) had been allocated to pay for the decontamination. See: La retirada de amianto en Badia del Vallès vuelve a retrasarse hasta 2024 [The removal of asbestos in Badia del Vallès is delayed again until 2024].

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 31, 2023

Four out of five schools in England and Wales contain asbestos; as a result, the number of teaching staff dying from workplace asbestos exposures continues to rise. Statistics revealed in the article cited below were obtained by Freedom of Information requests to the Department for Education. Even though the Government continued to prevaricate over the asbestos scandal, a Department for Education spokesperson asserted that: “We take the safety of children and those who work with them incredibly seriously – which is why we expect all local authorities, governing bodies and academy trusts to have robust plans in place to manage asbestos in school buildings effectively, in line with their legal duties.” See: The Silent Killer in Schools. Government Under Fire for Failing to Act on Lethal Asbestos.

Senator Supports Toxic Industry

Jan 31, 2023

Brazilian Senator Vanderlan Cardoso, whose constituency included Brazil’s sole remaining asbestos mining conglomerate, welcomed a new Supreme Court action which allowed mining to continue despite previous judicial verdicts that had banned the commercialization of asbestos nationwide. According to him: “the [asbestos] ban was a wrong decision that needed to be reversed to guarantee the jobs of the mining company's workers.” See: “Lutei por isso desde que cheguei ao Senado”, disse Vanderlan sobre a liberação da produção de amianto em Minaçu [“I have fought for this since I arrived in the Senate,” said Vanderlan about the sanctioning of asbestos production in Minaçu].

Appeal to President Lula!

Jan 27, 2023

Recapping the São Paulo aircraft carrier fiasco, the editorial cited below quoted a manifesto by Brazilian groups & partners which said the situation was “a cursed legacy of the Bolsonaro government.” Fears that the ship, now in the Navy’s possession, would be sunk impelled the authors to warn this would be “an environmental disaster with political repercussions and immense environmental damage due to the existence of carcinogenic asbestos, possible radioactive sources, arsenic, PCBs, heavy metals, among other harmful agents …” See: Porta-aviões brasileiro com amianto à deriva no oceano Atlântico: Mais uma herança maldita do governo Bolsonaro [Brazilian aircraft carrier with asbestos adrift in the Atlantic Ocean: Another cursed legacy of the Bolsonaro government].

Supreme Court Ruling for Victim

Jan 27, 2023

On January 25, 2023, it was announced that Italy’s Supreme Court had passed a historic sentence that confirmed the liability of the multinational Solvay Chemicals as per a verdict by the Florence Court of Appeal. It is the first judgment against Solvay; a worker, who contracted pleural plaques and pleural thickening from asbestos exposures at the company’s Rosignano plant, will receive ~€3,000 (US$3,260). Commenting on the case, one expert said: “This sentence is historic because Solvay has not only always denied the use of asbestos… but has continued to deny the rights of those exposed who have contracted asbestos-related diseases.” See: Danni da amianto, “sentenza storica” Cassazione condanna Solvay [Damages from asbestos “historic sentence” from Court of Cassation condemns Solvay].

Unwelcome Surprise from STF

Jan 27, 2023

On January 23, 2023, it was announced that Justice Alexandre de Moraes of Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) had suspended a judgment by the Superior Court of Justice, which had ordered that production at the SAMA asbestos mine be suspended; as a result of this ruling, asbestos mining will remain legal for the time being. In 2017, the STF had issued a verdict prohibiting the extraction, production, sale and use of asbestos in Brazil. Asbestos stakeholders appealed the decision, with the asbestos mining state of Goiás passing a law overruling the STF. See: Minaçu: STF autoriza a retomada da exploração de amianto no município [Minaçu: STF authorizes the resumption of asbestos exploitation in the municipality].

Insurers Accused of Delaying Tactics

Jan 27, 2023

The Zurich American Insurance Company has been accused of needlessly dragging out the judicial process in order to force asbestos plaintiff Ralph Hutt to settle his claim. Some weeks ago, mesothelioma sufferer Hutt was awarded $36.5 million by a Montana jury which had accepted his claim against Zurich, the current owner of the Maryland Casualty Company. The insurer had, the jury found, failed to protect miners from hazardous exposures at the vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. According to Hutt’s lawsuit against Zurich: “It is profitable for Zurich to breach its claim settlement duties and thereby increase the time over which it can generate income on money owed…” See: Lawsuit claims insurance company deliberately stalling in Libby asbestos cases.

Asbestos Legacy: The Facts

Jan 27, 2023

A commentary by Professor Antonio Alarcó Hernández in Spain’s Medical Gazette reviewed key aspects of the country’s asbestos legacy. Amongst the information presented was the following: between 1994 and 2008, there were 3,943 asbestos deaths in Spain; during the 20th century 2.6 million tons of asbestos were imported, with consumption highs achieved between 1960 and 1980; 75% of the asbestos went into the manufacture of fiber cement construction material. The author supported plans for the creation of a national asbestos compensation scheme and an asbestos eradication program to remove the toxic fiber and material containing it from the country’s infrastructure. See: Un peligro latente y silencioso: el amianto [A latent and silent danger: asbestos].

Asbestos Ruling in Amsterdam

Jan 27, 2023

A verdict handed down this week by an Amsterdam court found that the FloraHolland company had been negligent in allowing asbestos exposures to occur on multiple occasions at its various premises, including the flower market in Aalsmeer. The action was brought by a trade union on behalf of 15 current employees and the verdict means that should they or their former workmates contract an asbestos-related disease they will not need to bring a lawsuit to obtain compensation. In the judgment, the court said that although FloraHolland had known in 1990 that material containing asbestos was present in its premises, it had not issued warnings to staff until 2009. See: Top Dutch flower auction exposed employees to asbestos for years.

São Paulo Mystery

Jan 25, 2023

Having been refused permission to dock at various Brazilian ports after an aborted trip to Turkey for dismantling, on January 20 the Brazilian Navy took control of the hull of the redundant aircraft carrier the São Paulo following an ultimatum from the Turkish shipowners. The location of the Sao Paulo is unknown but it is believed to be proceeding away from the Brazilian coastline. It is feared by campaigners that the ship, which has become a contentious issue for the authorities, will be deliberately sunk. See: Porta-aviões ‘vagando’ no mar: entenda por que navio foi proibido de atracar no Brasil e Marinha assumiu controle [Aircraft carrier ‘wandering’ at sea: understand why the ship was banned from docking in Brazil and the why the Navy took control].

Supreme Court Issues Victims’ Ruling

Jan 25, 2023

Two recent decisions by the French Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) expanded the rights of the families of victims who had died from industrial diseases and/or workplace accidents to access compensation, not only for loss of earnings but also for physical and moral suffering caused by the negligent behaviour of employers. As a result, dependents will be better compensated, in particular, the surviving families of workers who had died from diseases caused by occupational asbestos exposures. See: Amiante: indemnisation des salariés victimes ou de leurs ayants droit [Asbestos: compensation for employee victims or their dependents].

Asbestos Hazard at the Port of Taranto

Jan 25, 2023

A ship – the Vittorio Veneto – which had been decommissioned by the Italian Navy in 2007 and abandoned at the port of Taranto in 2013 continues to pose an imminent threat to public safety due to the presence of asbestos-containing material on board. An investigating judge has ruled that even though no harmful incident has occurred, the abandonment of the ship is an environmental disaster due to: “its proximity to the city centre, exposure to bad weather, the corrosive action of sea water, the ascertained state of opening of the ventilation hatches and the massive presence of asbestos (both inside and outside the boat)…” See: Taranto, la nave Vittorio Veneto carica di amianto al porto è un rischio [Taranto, the Vittorio Veneto ship loaded with asbestos at the port is a risk].

A Fatal Legacy

Jan 25, 2023

Interviews with two Spanish asbestos victims were featured in the article cited below. Mesothelioma sufferer José Antonio worked in the asbestos removal industry from 1999 until 2007 using pressurized air to remove asbestos from buildings. Neither he nor his workmates knew of the dangers of the work processes they were using. Vanesa’s bricklayer father died from mesothelioma; his wife also died from this cancer, having inhaled the deadly asbestos fibers brought home on his work clothes. See: “Mis padres murieron por amianto. Fue muy duro decirle a él que ella había enfermado por limpiarle la ropa del trabajo” [“My parents died from asbestos. It was very hard to tell him that she had gotten sick from cleaning his work clothes”].