News Item Archive

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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 129
 

Asbestos and Human Rights

Jun 19, 2017

A one-day hearing is being held in Brussels on June 23, 2017 by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst on the safety of human rights defenders working in the field of business and human rights. Information received at this hearing as well as input from a public consultation will be part of a report presented to the UN General Assembly in October 2017. Fernanda Giannasi, a retired Brazilian Labor Inspector, will testify on Thursday about the death threats, attacks and intimidation she has faced in Brazil during her campaign for asbestos justice and a national asbestos ban. See: Report on the Situation of human rights defenders working in the field of business and human rights.
 

Mesothelioma Research

Jun 19, 2017

The June 2017 newsletter of the National Centre for Research on Asbestos Diseases (NCARD) has been published; included is news regarding NCARD personnel and progress achieved by Australian victims’ groups. The lead article details awards recently bestowed upon NCARD senior researcher Joost Lesterhuis for his work in identifying new treatments for mesothelioma. On page two is a feature about the stunning fund-raising efforts of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia which has just announced that it will fund a three and a half year PhD scholarship, to be supervised by NCARD’s Professor Nowak, into translational mesothelioma research. See: PDF version of NCARD newsletter, June 2017
 

Where is the Justice?

Jun 17, 2017

On June 15, 2017, a Milan court cleared 8 former managers of the Breda Termomeccanica-Ansaldo engineering company of charges related to asbestos deaths of 12 workers at its plant in Milan between the 1970s and 1985. Prosecutors, who accused the defendants of being “gravely culpable,” had asked for sentences of up to 4 years and 11 months. Friends and relatives of the Breda dead voiced their disappointment and held up a banner saying: “Remember all the workers killed in the name of profit.” In February and May, Milan courts acquitted ENEL (National Board of Electricity) and Fiat managers of charges related to 18 occupational asbestos deaths. See: Breda-Ansaldo ex-execs cleared in asbestos trial.
 

Asbestos in Prison

Jun 17, 2017

Canadian contractor Don Garrett must certainly rue the day when he won a contract to undertake plumbing work at Kent Institution, a maximum security federal prison in Agazziz, British Columbia. The businessman had no idea that routine work at the facility would expose him and his employees to asbestos nor that the stand he was forced to take over the failure of the authorities to inform him of the known hazard would cast him in the role of whistleblower. Despite nine years of enquiries and discussions with local and federal officials, the situation remains unresolved. See: B.C. contractor exposed to asbestos blows whistle, says government made his life a ‘nightmare’.
 

Support for Ban

Jun 17, 2017

Leading medical experts from Brazil’s National Cancer Institute have condemned the country’s continuing use of asbestos in a commentary published on June 15. Comparing the Brazilian with the United States asbestos legacy, authors Drs. Ubirani Otero and Ana Cristina Pinho suggest that: consumers do not buy asbestos-containing products; unions maintain active surveillance of workers in at-risk trades; and legislators implement national regulations to abolish the use of all forms of asbestos in Brazil. Brazil is currently the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile (white) asbestos. See: Brasil sem Amianto [Brazil without asbestos].
 

Asbestos-free Water

Jun 17, 2017

A program has been announced by the municipalities of Chania and Kissamos, on the northern coast of the Greek island of Crete, to replace asbestos water pipes as part of planned improvements to the water supply network which will reduce leakages and save energy. Announcing the plans last week, the Mayor of Kissamos Thodoris Stathakis said that the new network will be the same length as the old one necessitating the replacement of 4,500 meters of contaminated pipes and that “the aim of the municipal authority is the continuous improvement of the quality of life of our citizens and visitors.” See: Χανιά: Νέο δίκτυο ύδρευσης θα κατασκευαστεί στο δήμο Κισσάμου [Chania: A new water supply network will be built in the municipality of Kissamos].
 

Calls for India Ban

Jun 16, 2017

A commentary by activist Jagdish Patel, national coordinator of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, uploaded on June 15 has called into question continuing government support for the country’s asbestos sector by highlighting statistics which document the high toll being taken by dangerous exposures to asbestos, citing a report by the Ministry of Labour and Employment which said: “It is also high time that the government take initiative in formulating a national plan for prevention and control of silicosis and asbestosis in India…” See: Need for urgent action to protect workers from exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos fibers.
 

Asbestos: New Technology

Jun 16, 2017

On June 15, 2017, PhD student Matthew Govorko from Western Australia’s Curtin University released a free app for Android and Apple devices to help D-I-Y renovators evaluate the level of asbestos risk in their homes. According to Mr Govorko: “The app guides users through a series of questions, aided by photographs, to identify the potential level of risk in and around their homes before they start to renovate… Once they have completed the questionnaire through the app, they are offered a series of recommendations about what action to take based on the level of risk identified for each product.” See: New app maps the prevalence of asbestos in WA homes.
 

New Mesothelioma Trial

Jun 15, 2017

An article uploaded to the Mesothelioma Circle website on June 14, 2017 discussed a new collaboration by two pharmaceutical companies, which are commercial competitors, to progress the search for an effective immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma. Thirty-five mesothelioma patients who have unsuccessfully tried one or two other types of treatment will be administered Keytruda (Merck), and CRS-207 (Aduro Biotech) in 3-week cycles. If there are no safety issues and there is evidence of clinical benefit for the participants, treatment cycles could continue for up to two years. See: New Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Combines Keytruda, CRS-207.
 

Update: Asbestos Dialogue

Jun 15, 2017

The June 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) includes a feature by ban asbestos campaigner Jagdish Patel entitled Government Policy & Action on Highly Hazardous Substance ASBESTOS which discusses the engagement of civil society representatives with government officials in charge of the national asbestos policy. It details rude and intimidatory behaviour by Indian bureaucrat Biswanath Sinha at a UN meeting in Geneva; in 2017 Sinha accosted asbestosis victim Rajendra Pevekar; two years previously he had done the same to Mr. Sharad Vittnal Sawant, an asbestos victim from, Mumbai. See: PUCL Bulletin, June 2017.
 

Public Asbestos Anxiety

Jun 15, 2017

The free telephone hotline operated on June 13 and 14, 2017 by the Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and their Families received more than 1,000 calls from all over Japan on five telephone lines with long queues of calls building up from concerned citizens. The majority of questions related to the presence of asbestos-containing products in Japanese homes but there were also calls from people concerned about having contracted asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos litigation in Japan is a fairly new concept but lobbying by campaigners to access new public and private sources of support for the injured is ongoing.
 

Asbestos Workshop

Jun 15, 2017

The Asbestos Interest Group, based in the former asbestos mining area of Kuruman in the Northern Cape, is holding an asbestos workshop on June 16, South Africa’s annual Youth Day, for 120 children from the John Taolo Gaetsewe District who attend schools in asbestos contaminated areas. Subjects which will be covered in an age appropriate manner will include: the dangers of asbestos exposure, the types of asbestos-related diseases and measures for protecting residents from harmful exposures. Last year’s event was a great success as can be seen by the picture below. See: Photo from asbestos activities in Kuruman area on June 16, 2016.
 

Shipyard Victory

Jun 15, 2017

John Fenech, who died of asbestosis in 2011, had worked at the state-owned Malta Drydocks from age 14 until 57. A claim brought by his widow and children that his fundamental human right to protection of life and health had been violated has been recognized by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti whose ruling condemned the Chief Government Medical Officer and the Attorney General for failing to act on the asbestos hazard. Concluding that Mr. Fenech’s death resulted from a serious omission by the defendants, the Judge awarded the family €9,000; the claimants are appealing the low level of the judgment. See: Compensation for heirs of worker who died after asbestos exposure.
 

Russian Asbestos Immunity

Jun 14, 2017

As the injured wait to see whether a criminal trial will proceed against French asbestos businessmen and their conspirators, an article on the website “franceinfo” considers Russia’s thriving asbestos industry. Asbestos mining began in the Urals in 1885 and is now a mega-industry with enormous political and economic influence; so much so that Russian data on the incidence of asbestos disease is unavailable. Disparaging ban asbestos campaigners as part of a Western conspiracy, Russia continues to market asbestos primarily to low-income countries like India or countries in Southeast Asia. See: C'est comment ailleurs? L'amiante en Russie [How is it elsewhere? Asbestos in Russia].
 

Asbestos Removal Subsidy

Jun 14, 2017

A new scheme has been put in place by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region in Italy to assist private individuals to remove and dispose of asbestos in residential buildings. A €1,500 grant can be obtained by the owner, co-owner or tenant to enable them to employ a specialist contractor to carry out the work. It is hoped that this scheme will serve as a template for other local governments eager to expurgate asbestos contamination from their infrastructures. See: Friuli Venezia Giulia: aiuti economici ai privati per rimuovere e smaltire l’amianto [Friuli Venezia Giulia: economic aid for private individuals to remove and dispose of asbestos].
 

Asbestos: Public Housing

Jun 13, 2017

A new survey has revealed that asbestos was used in the construction of 22,000 public housing apartments in Japan. Professor Takehiko Murayama from the Tokyo Institute of Technology has estimated that this contamination could have damaged the health of more than 230,000 people. One former resident, 53-year-old Kazuko Saito, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015; she had lived in contaminated public housing from 1963 until 1984. On June 13 and 14, The Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related Disease Victims and their Families will operate a free hotline for enquiries related to asbestos exposures. See: Former resident develops mesothelioma.
 

Will the US ban asbestos?

Jun 13, 2017

A commentary just published in The Millbank Quarterly by David Rosen considers the likelihood of the United States following through on plans to ban asbestos under a Trump Presidency. With the evisceration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the appointment of Scott Pruitt as the new EPA administrator and statements made by Donald Trump that asbestos was “100 percent safe,” and that the “movement against asbestos was led by the mob,” Rosen predicts “that the movement to end the use of this deadly material is itself doomed.” See: Deregulating Safety: The Case of the Effort to Ban Asbestos.
 

Great New Union Resource

Jun 13, 2017

On June 8, 2017, the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) launched a new website in English, French, Spanish and German – Russian and Arabic versions are also planned – to provide useful information for workers in the construction and other sectors including its 12 million members in 334 trade unions from 130 countries. Since the mid-1980s, the BWI has lobbied for the banning of asbestos, working closely with ban asbestos groups and occupational health and safety campaigners around the world. See: New website of the Building and Woodworkers’ International.
 

Scandal: Killer Sites!

Jun 13, 2017

A devastating indictment of neglect by local authorities in New South Wales (NSW), Australia has revealed that people in nearly 200 homes in the Sydney area could have unknowingly been living on or near former disposal sites belonging to the James Hardie asbestos company. Furthermore, a new media expose revealed that the government had known about this situation for at least a decade. Reacting to this news John McMillan, acting NSW Ombudsman, said “This situation is unacceptable and must be dealt with as an urgent priority.” See: Asbestos risk: Sydney residents living on James Hardie disposal sites.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jun 12, 2017

An investigation by the Sunday Mail newspaper has reported the presence of asbestos in nearly half of Scotland’s schools (1,638 premises) including state nurseries, primaries and secondaries: “Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands each contained more than 100 affected schools.” Victims, family members and campaigners such as Phyllis Craig, of Clydeside Action on Asbestos, are calling for urgent action. “Councils say the risk is minimal and they put every precautionary measure in place,” says Ms. Craig “but if there’s no asbestos, there’s no risk.” See: Asbestos timebomb for 1600 schools as campaigners claim pupils face classroom cancer risk.
 

Asbestos Scandal

Jun 12, 2017

A June 9, 2017 exposé in the Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s major newspapers, revealed that between September 2012 and April 2016 customs bureaus in Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe allowed the import of asbestos-containing products despite prohibitions under the Industrial Safety and Health Act. According to the article, dealers in eight cases were asked to subsequently sanitize import declarations. Details of this scandal were obtained following the submission by staff from the Mainichi of an information disclosure request and an official complaint to the Minister of Finance. See: 3 customs bureaus suspected of asking dealers to cover up asbestos imports.
 

Calls for Remediation of Asbestos Waste

Jun 12, 2017

On June 9, 2017 the legislature of Castilla-La Mancha (C-LM), an autonomous community of Spain, approved a resolution submitted by the Podemos campaign and the People’s Political Party urging the regional executive to conduct a “comprehensive” environmental asbestos audit with particular attention to the city of Toledo and its environs where local people are calling for the immediate remediation of 90,000 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste in and around their neighborhoods. See: Podemos y PP instan a Junta a realizar un plan para retirar residuos de amianto y estudiar su presencia en C-LM [Podemos and PP urge the legislature to make a plan to identify and remove asbestos contamination in C-LM].
 

Court Victory!

Jun 12, 2017

In a very strongly worded judgment, a São Paulo court awarded a former Eternit worker who has contracted asbestosis, R$1 million (US$303,220) in “moral damages”; he had been employed in an administrative capacity at one of the company’s asbestos-cement factories. During the course of his employment, he had cause to enter areas where asbestos was being processed. See: Sentença de 2ª instância contra Eternit e SAMA em São Paulo condena empresas a pagar 1 milhão de reais por danos morais a ex-empregado com asbestose [Sentence of the 2nd instance against Eternit and SAMA in São Paulo condemns companies to pay 1 million reais for moral damages to ex-employee with asbestosis].
 

Pro-Asbestos Rally

Jun 12, 2017

Last week, a public rally in Jitikara, a village in the northwest of Kazakhstan, denounced the global campaign to ban asbestos. Kostani Minerals, one of the world’s largest asbestos mining companies, is a major employer in this area. Speakers at this event castigated the efforts of health and safety campaigners, international trade unionists and others who support an end to the slaughter caused by human exposures to asbestos, with threadbare and discredited rhetoric claiming that asbestos is a “natural and cheap material” which is safe to use. See: Работники хризотиловой отрасли в Казахстане встали на защиту асбеста [Chrysotile workers in Kazakhstan support asbestos protection].
 

Asbestos: Killer Fiber

Jun 12, 2017

The mesothelioma death of Isbelia Buitrago, a 41-year old architect from Colombia diagnosed in November 2015 with cancer, has been reported. In a touching TV interview broadcast on February 2, 2017, she detailed the presence of a variety of asbestos-containing products on construction sites including: tiles, tanks and pipes. Also speaking in that program was a government minister who promised Colombia would ban asbestos within 5 years. Every year, 320 people die in Colombia from asbestos exposures. See: Murió Isbelia Buitrago, la arquitecta a la que el asbesto le asfixió sus sueños [Architect Isbelia Buitrago, killed by asbestos].