News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Wittenoom: The End?

Aug 16, 2019

Legislation to deal with the hazard posed by the widespread asbestos contamination of the almost derelict asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA), has had its 3rd reading in the WA Legislative Assembly. Bill 120 will allow the State to compulsory purchase the 17 tracts of land belonging to five people in preparation for a final shutdown of the town which remains a bizarre and deadly tourist attraction. According to supporting text of the legislation: “The State may only demolish the remaining buildings, close the townsite and commence managing the risks posed by the area once all of the freehold land in Wittenoom has been revested in the State.” See: Wittenoom Closure Bill 2019.
 

Unsafe Asbestos Removal

Aug 16, 2019

The Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), a major Spanish trade union, has condemned exposures to asbestos experienced by members working at the Port of Malaga. Work to remediate asbestos-containing material from the port is ongoing and while asbestos operatives on site have protective clothing, UGT members and other workers have received neither protection nor notification regarding the specifics of the work being conducted in defiance of government regulations. The Labour Inspectorate has been informed of the “serious and imminent safety risk to workers' health.” See: UGT denuncia la exposición al amianto de funcionarios en el puerto de Málaga [UGT denounces the exposure to asbestos of officials in the port of Malaga].
 

Asbestos in the Built Environment

Aug 16, 2019

The answer to a Parliamentary question submitted to the Belgian Minister responsible for the government’s buildings agency revealed that in the last five years, 10% of government buildings had been subject to measures to deal with asbestos-containing material. In some of the 104 buildings affected, asbestos was removed; in others, airborne levels were monitored with no further action taken. Buildings on which asbestos remediation work was carried out included: police stations in Uccle and Etterbeek, the Monnaie theatre, the former justice palace in Antwerp, Ghent prison and a centre for asylum-seekers in Kapellen in Antwerp province. See: Federal government buildings still contain asbestos, says report.
 

Mesothelioma in South Africa

Aug 14, 2019

Liz Darlison MBE from Mesothelioma UK and Tracey Wood from the Glynnis Gale Foundation are on a fact-finding trip this week to South Africa to learn about mesothelioma treatment and care in the Northern Cape Province, the former location of several asbestos mines. In its heyday, the South African asbestos mining sector employed 20,000 miners, many of whom died from hazardous occupational exposures. During the trip, Ms. Darlison and Ms. Wood will meet with clinicians, patients and stakeholders in the Northern Cape to learn first-hand about the treatment available to patients with asbestos cancer. See: UK Cancer Nursing and Charity Team Visit South Africa to See Impact of Asbestos-related Cancer.
 

Asbestos Mining: Expose

Aug 14, 2019

Despite decades of denial, the deadly price paid by workers for the profits of the Brazilian asbestos mining industry is beginning to emerge. A PhD dissertation by Arthur Pires Amaral, which was featured in the article below, revealed the repercussions of occupational exposures to asbestos mine workers and their families at the now closed SAMA chrysotile asbestos mine in the city of Minaçu: “These former SAMA employees died without any medical assistance and financial compensation from the mining company, often being held responsible for the worsening of their poor health conditions,” wrote Amaral. See: Negação do adoecimento pelo Amianto [Denial of Asbestos Disease].
 

Asbestos Propaganda

Aug 14, 2019

Russian asbestos propaganda promoting the advantages of using chrysotile (white) asbestos in brake pads cited research findings by asbestos industry-commissioned scientists such as David Bernstein, Rick Rogers and Paul Smith, which discount the human health hazard posed by exposures to chrysotile asbestos; publications by Denis Paustenbach, an expert often used by defendants in US asbestos lawsuits, Craig Poland and Roger Duffin are cited to counter claims regarding the health hazard to mechanics of working with chrysotile brake pads. See: Борьба за хризотил: тормозные колодки на прицеле у ученых [The fight for chrysotile: brake pads - scientific update].
 

Asbestos Scheme in Jersey

Aug 14, 2019

A scheme – the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme – which will be operational from October, 2019, has been announced by the Government of Jersey to compensate Jersey residents who contract mesothelioma, the signature cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. Eligible claimants could receive a one-off payment of up to £92,000 but amounts are dependent on the age of the applicant, with older people receiving less; a person aged 70 would be entitled to £17,961, claimants aged 77 or over would receive £14,334. This scheme is a result of campaigning by asbestos victims; a 2018 e-petition attracted over 1,300 signatures. See: Up to £92K for sufferers of asbestos disease in Jersey.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Aug 13, 2019

Between July 2018 and 2019, more than 1,000 schools in Flanders have applied to the Public Waste Agency of Flanders for funding to remove asbestos; to date, all of the applications received have been approved. According to data released, remediation work is being planned or has already been started at 250 educational premises. The Government of Flanders has designated the removal of asbestos from schools a high priority. See: Al meer dan duizend Vlaamse scholen deden aanvraag voor subsidies voor asbestverwijdering [More than a thousand Flemish schools have already applied for asbestos removal subsidies].
 

Environmental and Public Health Initiative

Aug 13, 2019

An outreach project entitled Diferentes Formas de Dizer Não – Experiências de  proibição; resistência e restrição a mineração [Different Ways to Say No – Prohibition experiences; mining resistance and restrictions] promoted by the Brazilian Environmental Justice Network in the City of Muriaé in the southeast of the State of Minas Gerais – east of Brazil’s former asbestos mining State (Goiás) – is being carried out between August 13 and 15, 2019 to consider the health, economic and environmental impact of mining operations and examine topical issues, such as demands by vested interests to recommence asbestos mining banned by a 2017 ruling by the Supreme Court. See: Poster for the Workshops.
 

Remediation of Asbestos Roofing

Aug 13, 2019

For over ten years, the Government of Rwanda has been committed to securing the removal of asbestos roofing from public and private buildings due to the known health hazard. Last week, Claver Gatete – the Minister for Infrastructure – announced that within a year the asbestos roofing on all public buildings would be removed. An asbestos expert predicted that this scheme would cost the government at least US $5,000,000. Because of the government’s positive attitude to the remediation, more asbestos removalists have been trained and more asbestos disposal sets designated. See: Govt. sets fresh deadline for asbestos removal.
 

New Asbestos Documentary

Aug 13, 2019

After decades of government denial, the price paid by Canadians for occupational asbestos exposures is emerging: thousands of deaths every year at a cost of billions of dollars for healthcare and lost productivity. The documentary “Town of Widows” was screened on the Canadian Broadcasting Channel on August 8, 2019 and focused on the consequences of asbestos exposures at the General Electric plant in Peterborough, Ontario where 225+ kilograms of asbestos were used every day. Former workers recounted the “snowstorm” of asbestos and the prolonged and complex fight for compensation faced by the injured and their families. See: The Facts about Asbestos Cancer and Compensation in Canada.
 

Asbestos Exports to Asia

Aug 12, 2019

An article on a Russian language website boasted of increasing sales of Russian chrysotile asbestos to countries in Asia, including Laos, China, India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, due to its unparalleled chemical, physical and cost advantages. The short infomercial concluded that: “In the region where most of the world's population lives, there is always a high need for cheap, durable and reliable housing. That is why chrysotile is chosen for the construction of affordable and premium housing by both state-owned companies and private construction corporations.” See: Хризотил-асбест: импорт минерала в страны Юго-Восточной Азии неуклонно растет [Chrysotile asbestos: mineral imports by Southeast Asia growing steadily].
 

Health Advocates Support Asbestos Ban

Aug 12, 2019

During the 16th National Health Conference this month, a motion circulated by The Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) repudiating efforts by asbestos vested interests to force the Supreme Court to allow asbestos mining for export was strongly supported. The petition condemned Goiás State law 20.512/2019 which permitted chrysotile asbestos mining, processing and transport for export purposes in contravention of the Court’s 2017 ruling outlawing the asbestos industry. See: 16ªCNS: Abrea encaminha menção de repúdio sobre liberação da exportação do amianto ao STF [16th National Health Conference supported ABREA motion rejecting asbestos miners’ appeal to Supreme Court (for export exemption to national ban)].
 

Spain’s Asbestos Legacy

Aug 12, 2019

With 1,900 people dying every year from asbestos-related diseases in Spain, the hazard posed by toxic products within the national infrastructure is a threat to both occupational and public health. According to government figures, few cases of asbestos disease are recognized and even fewer compensated. The asbestos problem on the Madrid Metro was highlighted; in an industry where asbestos products were widely used, the company operating the capital’s subway denied the existence of this problem until 2018 and even now fails to address the problems caused by asbestos exposures to workers and commuters. See: Amianto en Metro Madrid: ¿cuánto tardará la muerte en ser una rutina? [Asbestos in Metro Madrid: how long will it take to address?].
 

MoD Asbestos Contamination

Aug 12, 2019

Although personnel from an MoD (Ministry of Defence) site in Ashchurch, Gloucestershire where asbestos had been found have been put on “indefinite leave”, 20+ guards are still patrolling the military site. According to trade union official Caren Evans: “Requiring MoD guards to continue to patrol a site which is otherwise shut down owing to asbestos contamination is alarming. Workers have to change their boots, clearly indicating a risk of further contamination. No worker should be placed in harm’s way. Changing boots does not protect workers from breathing in asbestos, which can have fatal consequences.” See: No response from MoD on worker asbestos exposure.
 

Record Mesothelioma Award

Aug 7, 2019

On August 6, a South Australia Employment Tribunal found Australia’s former asbestos giant James Hardie negligent for failing to take reasonable steps to warn of the hazards of exposures to their products in a case brought by home renovator and mesothelioma sufferer 42-year-old Mathew Werfel who was awarded $3 million in compensation. “The potential future liability for James Hardie is extraordinary,” said Werfel’s lawyer who affirmed that “James Hardie ought to be held liable in circumstances where persons have come into contact with their product in the years after they've been installed.” See: DIY handyman wins landmark $3 million asbestos compensation claim against James Hardie.
 

New Asbestos Regulations

Aug 7, 2019

Regulations which become enforceable from July 19, 2019 in France mandate that asbestos audits be carried out even before minor work such as replacing pipework or removing insulation could begin; failure to do so could incur financial penalties of up to a €18,000. The new law was passed to protect workers and the public from exposures which are responsible for the country’s second biggest epidemic of occupational diseases. It could, one expert predicted, take another 30 years to remove all asbestos from France. See: Le diagnostic amiante devient obligatoire même pour de menus travaux [Asbestos audit becomes mandatory even before smaller jobs].
 

The Lancet’s Asbestos Editorial

Aug 5, 2019

Citing the latest mesothelioma mortality data from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, an editorial in the latest issue of The Lancet (August 2019, Vol. 20) – the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journal – condemned national governments which had failed to protect human health by banning asbestos and warned that in nations such as the US, Russia, China and others which are still using or producing asbestos “we can only expect the incidence of asbestos-related mesothelioma and diseases… to continue to rise unless governments act to address this highly preventable cause of premature death.” See: Asbestos exposure: the dust cloud lingers.
 

Asbestos and Cancer

Aug 5, 2019

An August 1, 2019 article on the causation of cancer on the website of a regional newspaper in Belarus listed asbestos as the first of six potentially toxic hazards which should be avoided, and highlighted the everyday risk posed by breathing in asbestos fibers at home or at work. Such exposures could, over a period of time the article said, cause lung cancer. Asbestos remediation work should be undertaken by specialists to avoid the risk of inhalation. The other dangers listed were: X-rays, smog, alcohol, the sun and red meat. See: Названы повседневные вещи, которые могут вызвать онкологию [Everyday things that can cause cancer].
 

Asbestos Cancer Rate Increasing

Aug 5, 2019

A recently published analysis of statistics for malignant mesothelioma (MM) mortality in Greece during the period 2005-2015 has shown a significant increase compared to previous decades, with higher rates in individuals, both male and female, between 70 and 80 years old throughout most of the country. The authors speculate that “this increase is possibly due to the fact that the peak in asbestos production and use in Greece was in the mid 1990s… Based on these findings the MM epidemic in Greece has not yet peaked, therefore it is important to implement screening strategies for early MM detection.” See: Mesothelioma Mortality Rates in Greece for the Period 2005-2015 Is Increased Compared to Previous Decades.
 

Asbestos on the Railways

Aug 2, 2019

According to officials from the state-owned railway company in France – the SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français) – since 1997 there has been no asbestos in the company’s rolling stock. Nevertheless, for six months this year (2019) workers engaged in the maintenance of freight cars at an SNCF workshop in Ambérieu-en-Bugey (Ain) received toxic occupational exposures. As a result of the contamination, work on suspect carriages was suspended; on July 29, workers were told that if full production was not resumed at the workshop, the facility would be closed. See: Vers une « affaire amiante » à la SNCF [The “asbestos affair” at SNCF].
 

Asbestos at Nissan Plant

Aug 2, 2019

A Barcelona Court has issued the first verdict against Nissan for the asbestos death of a former employee, a maintenance technician, from one of its plants in Barcelona who had been occupationally exposed to asbestos in brake pads/discs and printing presses, as a result of which he died of mesothelioma in 2014. The Court found the company to be negligent for failing to prevent toxic occupational exposures to occur. The case was brought by the widow of the deceased. See: Primera sentencia que señala al amianto como causa de muerte de un extrabajador de Nissan [First sentence that points to asbestos as the cause of death of a Nissan former worker].
 

On the Road to an Asbestos Ban

Aug 2, 2019

A new article on the website of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad highlighted the importance of the June 28, 2019 launch of the Cambodian National Asbestos Profile, a useful resource for decision-makers, workers and consumers working to safeguard health and safety by identifying the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in workplaces and communities in preparation for the implementation of national prohibitions. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Leng Tong, Advisor to the Ministry of Labor and Employment Training, said: “Cambodia is still allowing asbestos use because we do not have tools for checking this substance, but in the future, Cambodia will prepare to erase asbestos, to implement an asbestos ban.” See: Fight to Ban Asbestos Boosted in Cambodia.
 

Supreme Court Victory

Jul 30, 2019

On July 29, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a verdict granting public access to court documents in a case involving a British subsidiary of a former asbestos multinational. The judgment in the case of Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Dring (for and on behalf of Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) can be accessed at Cape Intermediate Holdings v Dring Judgment and a press summary at Press Summary. In lead judgment, Lady Hale wrote: “The default position should be to grant access to documents placed before a judge and referred to by a party at trial unless there was a good reason not to do so.” See: Supreme Court ruling grants public access to court documents.
 

Turkey’s Asbestos Disaster

Jul 30, 2019

Plans announced by Gürkan Akgün, Head of the Department of Reconstruction and Urbanism in Istanbul, have been attacked by environmentalists on multiple grounds including the hazard posed by demolition of asbestos-containing buildings. According to researcher, Asli Odman urban transformation schemes which started in 2011 in Turkey spread asbestos throughout the country due to failures to remediate buildings prior to demolition or renovation. “Asbestos is the Chernobyl of the future,” she said. See: Gürkan Akgün: Taksim için yakın zamanda açıklama yapılacak [Gurkan Akgun: [plans for?] Taksim will be announced soon].