News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Setback: Asbestos Program
Aug 22, 2017
The National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management has withdrawn funding for the asbestos removal program for Poland’s northern state of Warmia and Mazury. Subsidies available for carrying out remediation work have been reduced as a result of which applications for state assistance have decreased. Under a mandatory national scheme, all regions have until 2032 to eliminate asbestos contamination; failure to comply will incur heavy penalties. Experts believe there are still more than 200,000 tonnes of contaminated material in the state. See: Azbest zostanie z nami na dłużej. Narodowy fundusz wycofuje się z programu [Asbestos will stay with us longer. National fund withdraws from the program].
Toxic Asbestos Legacy
Aug 20, 2017
Even if asbestos is banned in Brazil, as many experts believe will happen as a result of a landmark Supreme Court decision expected on August 23, many people will die from toxic workplace or environmental exposures. Welcoming the end of asbestos use, former asbestos worker and President of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) Eliezer João de Souza told journalists that there is a lot of work to do in supporting the injured and eradicating the asbestos hazard from the Brazilian infrastructure. See: O amianto no Brasil está com os dias contados, diz ex-funcionário [The days are numbered for asbestos use in Brazil says former employee].
Another Brazilian Ban!
Aug 18, 2017
A bill to end the use of asbestos in Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil was presented on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 to the state legislature by Representative Eduardo Rocha, who claimed such action was needed to protect public and occupational health. The proposed law would prohibit the installation or purchase of asbestos-containing products, materials or artifacts. Several other Brazilian states have already banned asbestos. They include: Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Amazonas See: Projeto de lei busca vedar a utilização do amianto no MS [Bill Bans Prohibition of Asbestos Use in MS].
Asbestos: At Home
Aug 18, 2017
In a public demonstration by Greenpeace in the National Park of Bogotá on August 15, 2017, demands were made that Eternit, one of Colombia’s biggest asbestos companies, ban asbestos from its products. Greenpeace members mounted a performance set within a typical living room illustrating the hazards to family members of living with asbestos and products containing it. A bill to ban the commercial exploitation of asbestos, still mined and used in Colombia, is being considered by the Senate. See: Greenpeace pide a Eternit dejar de producir productos con asbestos [Greenpeace calls on Eternit to stop producing asbestos products].
Asbestos in the Outback
Aug 18, 2017
Asbestos widely used in Australia after the Second World War to develop urban areas is also prevalent in remote rural communities. An innovative program by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, the result of consultation with communities in rural areas, is being run in collaboration with the Government of the Northern Territory, employing asbestos specialists to train local people to remove asbestos from their communities and other areas. One particular challenge is the distance from licensed asbestos disposal sites. New community waste facilities are being developed to accept asbestos debris. See: Fighting the scourge of asbestos in remote communities.
Victory For Victims!
Aug 18, 2017
Spain’s Supreme Court has this summer upheld a ruling condemning the Uralita asbestos company for the mesothelioma deaths of two women who were exposed to asbestos whilst washing their husbands’ contaminated work clothes; both men had worked for decades at the company’s Getafe factory – from the 1960s. The Court awarded compensation of €180,000 to each family. See: El Supremo confirma una indemnización de 360.000 euros a los familiares de dos mujeres fallecidas por Amianto [Supreme Court confirms compensation of 360,000 euros for relatives of women killed by asbestos].
Court Removes Asbestos
Aug 16, 2017
Acting Chief Justice Nishiata Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty have this week directed that asbestos-containing sheeting on the roofs of at least 10 courtrooms, the portico, 5 bar association rooms, the Bar Library, the study of the Bar Association and the department of the first assistant registrar in Kolkata’s High Court be removed. The toxic building material will be replaced with safer alternatives according to the orders handed down by the justices. This action has been taken after litigation was brought in 2016 by local resident Ashis Mitra. See: No more asbestos in HC: Acting Chief Justice.
Asbestos: The Human Cost
Aug 16, 2017
To quantify the economic costs of lung cancer and mesothelioma cases associated with occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure diagnosed in 2011, researchers studied data relating to 2,331 cases. Direct and indirect total costs were estimated at $C381m and $C1.5 billion in quality of life costs. The contents of this paper are, the authors say, of importance to policymakers, and support the conclusion that the “economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma associated with occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure is substantial.” See: The economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma due to occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure.
Aug 15, 2017
Through its outstanding fund-raising efforts and in collaboration with the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) has made a generous scholarship available to provide $60,000 per year (and payment of other costs) to a suitable candidate “to grow the knowledge and expertise in mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases… (and to) directly contribute to ongoing NCARD research combating asbestos diseases…” Every year, the ADSA walk raises substantial sums for NCARD (see details of the 2017 walk, scheduled to commence on September 10). See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Phd Scholarship in Mesothelioma.
Aug 5, 2017
Amec Foster Wheeler, one of Britain’s biggest engineering groups, has announced potential future liabilities of £310m for thousands of asbestos cases most of which are expected from US claimants and all of which relate to exposures to equipment manufactured during or before the 1970s. In figures released a few weeks ago, the company reported 3,800 US claims in 2016, up from 3,420 claims in 2015, many of which were for mesothelioma or lung cancer. Amec Foster Wheeler has quantified the projected figures saying that the predictions are “subject to a number of uncertainties.” See: Amec Foster Wheeler faces £310m bill to settle asbestos-related claims.
General Electric: Restitution
Aug 14, 2017
Advocates for former General Electric (GE) workers exposed to occupational toxins, including asbestos, are campaigning for automatic compensation from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Lobbying for injured Canadian workers and family members, the Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition –Peterborough is calling for “presumptive entitlement” to compensation for illnesses contracted as a result of exposure to carcinogens used at GE’s Peterborough plant. See: More for Automatic compensation for General Electric Peterborough retirees exposed to toxins remains goal of Occupational and Environmental Health Coalition.
Aug 14, 2017
The long-awaited Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of asbestos use in Brazil, the world’s third largest asbestos producer, scheduled to be handed down on August 10, 2017, brought many people to Brasilia including veteran ban asbestos campaigners Fernanda Giannasi and Eliezer João de Souza from the Brazilian Group of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA). After the vote of Justice Dias Toffoli, however, the proceedings were suspended until August 17. See: ‘Atenção, contém amianto’: STF julga futuro da polêmica fibra, comum em telhados no Brasil [‘Attention, contains asbestos’: STF judges future of controversial fiber, common on roofs in Brazil].
Ban Asbestos Bill
Aug 14, 2017
Senator Nadia Blel presented a proposal to ban asbestos, entitled the Ana Cecilia Niño bill in honor of a deceased mesothelioma sufferer, to the Colombian Congress on August 2, 2017, highlighting the toxicity of the substance and the scores of countries which had already banned its use. (see August 8, 2017 TV interview with Senator Blel). The motivation of the ban asbestos project was, said the Senator, to protect “the health of Colombians.” A 5-year phase-out period is proposed to allow industries to make the transition to safer technologies. See: Nadia Blel radica proyecto de Ley “Ana Cecilia Niño” en contra del Asbesto [Nadia Blel’s bill “Ana Cecilia Niño” against Asbestos].
Aug 14, 2017
A collaborative project between private enterprise and school officials has succeeded in remediating asbestos contamination at Laerskool Hoeveld, a primary school in the South African City of Mpumalanga. During the Summer vacation, commercial asbestos specialists and staff from local businesses removed asbestos-containing products and refurbished the school premises. Commenting on this project, school principal Danie Heese said: “It was such a wonderful surprise for the children when they returned to school. They were buzzing with excitement about the upgraded facilities.” See: Hazardous asbestos cleared from Mpumalanga school.
Asbestos at the Opera
Aug 11, 2017
One week after the discovery (July 24) of asbestos in service ducts at the Sydney Opera House where 25 electricians had been working, the Electrical Trades Union issued an order stopping work by its members on the $200 million renovation program. The exposed tradesmen had not been issued with protective clothing to work with the toxic material, nor had they received mandatory training for such work. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union is considering the possibility of further bans on the site. SafeWork NSW is investigating the asbestos discovery. See: Union bans workers from Sydney Opera House renovation after asbestos found.
Aug 11, 2017
The long-dreaded Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs – known more succinctly as the Jackson Report – which was published at the end of last month (July, 2017), made an exception for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung disease claims as specified on pages 101 and 102; on page 65, the report also highlighted the value of input received from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (AVSGF) on March 10, 2017: “The general view of the AVSGF was that such cases were not suited to FRC [Fixed Recoverable Costs].” See: Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs.
Aug 1, 2017
A fact sheet in the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas issued by the Research Council of Canada has highlighted the repercussions of asbestos production and use at home and the impact of exposures to Canadian asbestos abroad. In Canada, asbestos is “one of the leading causes of occupationally-related cancer deaths… most asbestos-related diseases are first detected long after exposure to the mineral.” The international sale of Canadian asbestos over many decades and the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases mean that “in developing countries using Canadian asbestos today, an increase in mesothelioma deaths can be expected in future.” See: Asbestos Production in Canada.
Jul 30, 2017
As the Brazilian Supreme Court prepares to recommence hearings on the unconstitutionality of asbestos use, an article has revealed that most asbestos-using companies in Brazil have either transitioned to safer technologies or have signed agreements with the Public Labor Ministry to end use by 2018. Only Eternit, the owner of Brazil’s sole asbestos mine, and Precon remain committed to asbestos use. While Precon has been ordered to phase out the use of asbestos in its manufacturing of tiles by September 2018, Eternit refuses to discuss the subject. See: Amianto: de 9 empresas, 7 já deixaram de usar a fibra ou vão abandoná-la até 2018 [Asbestos: of 9 companies, 7 have already stopped using the fiber or will abandon it by 2018].
Jul 28, 2017
In the Newcastle Advertiser, a newspaper serving South Africa’s third largest city in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Occupational Hygienist Paul Muchemi details the legacy of decades of asbestos consumption in the only country where all three types of asbestos – crocidolite, amosite and chrysotile – were produced. Although asbestos was banned in 2001, the imminent hazards posed by its presence continue. Muchemi recommended that asbestos audits be carried out and that hazardous material be disposed of via trained and regulated asbestos removal contractors. Action should be prioritized when asbestos-containing material is damaged or deteriorating, he said. See: Asbestos, the hidden killer.
Basque Asbestos Ruling
Jul 28, 2017
In October 2016, aged 61, José Luis R.S. died from, mesothelioma, a year after his occupational disease was recognized. The Basque High Court has this week rejected an appeal by his employer Garay Recubrimientos (Garay Coatings) of a claimant’s ruling from the Social Court; the company has been ordered to pay compensation of ~€450,000 to the wife and children of the deceased. From 1986 to 1999, José Luis R.S. had been employed by the company to repair steam pipes which necessitated the handling of asbestos insulation; at no time was he provided with respiratory protection. See: Una empresa deberá pagar 450.000 € a la familia de un fallecido poramianto [A company must pay €450,000 to the family of a deceased asbestos victim].
Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
Jul 28, 2017
A new Brazilian website and outreach campaign have been launched to raise awareness of the ubiquity of asbestos and hazards relating to its continuing production and use in Brazil. Information available from these sources highlights high risk occupations, such as working in the construction industry, and the public health risk to family members and members of the public living near asbestos processing facilities. The opposition to Brazil’s banning asbestos comes from vested economic interests determined to preserve the status quo. See: Amianto causa cancer [Asbestos causes cancer].
£1.27m Asbestos Fine
Jul 27, 2017
Southwark Crown Court imposed a £1.27 million fine on Balfour Beatty and two subcontractors who were, it found, been responsible for asbestos exposures which occurred on July 24, 2012 during refurbishment work at a school in Waltham Forest. Commenting on the verdict, HSE inspector Sarah Robinson said: “The principal contractor and contractors on site did not review the survey report in detail, and did not take into consideration the multitude of caveats. Therefore the work undertaken did not adopt the high standards of control expected for working where there was the potential to expose workers to asbestos.” See: Balfour and subcontractors hit with £1.27m in asbestos fines.
Ban Asbestos Dialogue
Jul 26, 2017
Three days of asbestos awareness events began today in Jakarta organized by local campaigning groups in partnership with Australia’s Union Aid Abroad, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and others. The speakers at today’s trade union workshop at the Legal Aid Institute include Associate Prof. Dr Yv Viger (Canada) and campaigners M. Darisman (Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network) and Bernawan Sinaga, from the Ministry of Manpower. In the coming days, events focusing on the medical management of asbestos-related diseases and the development of a national ban asbestos road map will also take place. See: Photograph of Jakarta seminar July 26, 2017.
Court Action against Regulators
Jul 26, 2017
The Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has withdrawn a certificate which had allowed asbestos factory units belonging to companies from Tamil Nadu to operate in Bhojpur, Bihar. Despite the BSPCB’s actions, the factories are still manufacturing asbestos products. Legal actions regarding the companies’ actions are ongoing before the Patna High Court. A case against the BSPCB, Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) and the State of Bihar has also been filed by one of the asbestos companies. The next court hearing will be on August 7. See: Nibhi asbestos company in Patna High Court after cancellation of its permission by Pollution Control Board.
Jul 25. 2017
The legacy of asbestos use throughout the built environment is a serious concern of Jeffrey Headley who, before he retired in 2013, was the head of the Barbados Environmental Protection Department. In an interview with the Sunday Sun newspaper, Headley said that although he had hoped that the removal of asbestos roofing material would be prioritized by the government, he has in the last few years seen little evidence of this happening. Headley confirmed that many buildings – such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – and state housing units still had the original asbestos sheeting first installed on roofs when the premises were constructed. See: Health hazard.