News Item Archive
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Displaying 25 items in reverse date order starting from item 1977
Government Liable for Exposures
Dec 25, 2013
On December 25, 2013, in a landmark ruling by the Osaka High Court, the Japanese Government was held liable for asbestos-related diseases due to its failure to protect workers from harmful exposures. This is the first time such a judgment has been handed down. The 58 claimants in this case, who include former asbestos mill workers from the Osaka South Prefecture, were seeking 700 million yen (U.S. $6.7 million) in damages; today's ruling awarded them 340m, nearly double that awarded by a lower court. See: High court holds gov't liable for asbestos exposure for 1st time; also see: Asbestos Health Hazard in Seenan.
Demonstration at Ministry of Health
Dec 24, 2013
Scores of members of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN), today mounted a protest outside the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Bangkok to condemn the continued use of asbestos more than two years after a cabinet resolution was adopted supporting a ban. The demonstrators read out a statement which criticised the status quo and the position of an interim MoH's official who supported it (see: T-BAN Statement). It is understood that the controversial report supporting the use of chrysotile will not be submitted to the cabinet. T-BAN is calling for full disclosure relating to the actions of this official.
Paris Subways Stopped by Asbestos
Dec 23, 2103
On December 20, 2013, four lines of the Paris Metro were shut-down for three hours in the late afternoon due to an asbestos alert issued by transport union supervisors. Thirty thousand people were evacuated from the trains. A technical fault in a containment system used by asbestos removal workers in the command center of these lines had resulted in unacceptable readings of airborne fibers. As a consequence, an order was given by the union for the workers who manage these subway lines to evacuate. See: Interruption du métro parisien: "Le seuil d'amiante avait été atteint", dit le vice-président du STIF [Interruption of the Paris Metro: "The asbestos threshold had been reached," said STIF vice president].
Risk of Low Level Asbestos Exposure
Dec 22, 2013
A paper in the Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine last week highlighted the association between low level occupational asbestos exposures and asbestos cancers. Data from a Dutch cohort of nearly 60,000 men aged 55 to 69 years, documented the following number of asbestos-related cancers: 132 pleural mesotheliomas, 2,324 lung cancers and 166 laryngeal cancers. The authors conclude that low level asbestos exposures "may be associated with an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer." See: Occupational Asbestos Exposure and Risk of Pleural Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, and Laryngeal Cancer in the Prospective Netherlands Cohort Study.
Landmark Compensation for Asbestosis
Dec 21, 2013
On December 20, 14 tribal workers with asbestosis who had been employed at Udaipur asbestos mines received compensation of around U.S. $1,600 from the Rajasthan State Government (see: Picture of recipients). This comes as the conclusion to a 6 year-fight by the Mine Labor Protection Campaign with medical institutions and government departments. Future victims will also receive this amount; widows of deceased claimants will receive $4,800. These payouts mark a landmark victory for injured workers as it is the first time Indian asbestosis victims have received monetary relief from the State. See: In a first, 14 asbestosis victims get 1L cheques.
Environmental Asbestos Risk
Dec 21, 2013
A journal article just published details the ongoing threat posed by exposure to asbestos-containing materials and environmental contamination in South Africa, a country which banned asbestos in 2008. The paper highlights the hazards of unrehabilitated mine dumps and unregulated dumping of asbestos waste as well as elevated levels of asbestos contamination found throughout the country's educational infrastructure. The authors urge that measures to identify and monitor contamination be adopted in order to "assist in the safe removal of asbestos and in reducing its adverse health effects." See: A South African database of samples analysed for the presence of asbestos.
WHO Issues Asbestos Alert
Dec 19, 2013
On Monday (December 16, 2013), the World Health Organization issued a warning on the health risk of exposure to asbestos and other environmental toxins. This was in response to conclusions reached by delegates who took part in the third meeting of the Environment and Health Task Force in Brussels (December 10-11, 2013). At the meeting, representatives from thirty countries expressed support for action "to free Europe from asbestos-related diseases and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and toxic chemicals." See: Countries urged to sink health risks from asbestos, second-hand smoke and toxic chemicals by 2015.
Widespread Asbestos Contamination
Dec 19, 2013
Reacting to research conducted by the Socialist Trade Union, which found non-compliance with asbestos regulations in up to 1,000 public buildings in Brussels, the Belgian asbestos victims' group ABEVA issued a press release calling for effective but non-precipitous action. Previous calls by ABEVA for a joined-up government policy on asbestos had been ignored with dire consequences. Highlighting the potential for contamination of schools, ABEVA recommended the urgent prioritization of remedial work in the educational infrastructure. See: Asbestos in many of Brussels' public buildings.
Agreement to Ban Asbestos in Laos
Dec 17, 2013
News was published yesterday of an agreement signed in Vientiane on December 13, 2013 by Somphong Soukivanh, the Deputy Director General of the Industry and Handicrafts Department, and Philip Hazelton, regional representative of the Australian organization Union Aid Abroad to develop a National Asbestos Profile. Work will begin in January 2014. Upon completion in June, 2014 the profile will constitute a fundamental part of the National Strategy on the Elimination of Asbestos. Laos uses asbestos to produce industrial products including cement roofing tiles. In 2002, the country began importing significant amounts of the deadly material. See: Laos plans to eliminate the importation of asbestos.
Anger at Expansion of Asbestos Sector
Dec 17, 2013
Yesterday (December 16, 2013), a delegation of activists and local people met with state officials to submit a Memorandum criticising the plans by Utkal Asbestos Limited, a company based in West Bengal, to construct an asbestos factory in their village. This was the latest manifestation of anger by civilians over the seemingly unchecked expansion of the hazardous asbestos sector in Bihar State. During demonstrations, protestors have been injured by the police and company security guards and workers have been sacked. See: Some 10, 000 Vaishali Villagers Submit Petition Against proposed Hazardous Asbestos Factory of Bengal's Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL).
Iconic Paris Landmark Contaminated
Dec 16, 2013
A preliminary report leaked last week to Le Monde and Agence France Presse confirms that cable ducts in the Tour Montparnasse, a landmark building in which 5,000+ people work, are lined with asbestos. Ventilation systems also contain asbestos liberated during seven years of decontamination work at a cost of €250 million. As a result of these findings the authorities have suspended remedial work until further notice. The final version of the report is expected to be published in the New Year. The 207 meter tower complex was built in 1973 at a cost of $140m by N.Y. property developer Wylie Tuttle. See: Tour Montparnasse contaminated with asbestos.
Threat from Asbestos Deposits
Dec 16, 2013
Last week, Spain's award-winning Observer Magazine, published an article which focused on the country's asbestos history including attempts to mine chrysotile and tremolite in Andalusia. Three million tonnes of asbestos were used in Spain with consumption peaking in the 1970s; only a small amount was produced locally. The threat posed by the geographical presence of asbestos in areas including the Costa del Sol and Serrania de Ronda is yet to be acknowledged by the authorities. See: "Fiebre del oro blanco" en la Costa del Sol y en la serranía de Ronda [White Gold Fever on the Costa del Sol and in the Serrania de Ronda].
Schmidheiny's Donations to Yale
Dec 14, 2013
Further information has been forthcoming regarding the decision by Yale University not to revoke an honorary doctorate awarded to convicted criminal Stephan Schmidheiny. In an article which appeared yesterday in the local newspaper of Casale Monferrato, an Italian town decimated by the operations of Schmidheiny's asbestos company, it was revealed that the reclusive billionaire and/or an organization he founded, made substantial donations to the University in 1996 and 1997. The article's headline says it all: Schmidheiny pagò la laurea ad honorem [Schmidheiny paid for honorary degree].
End of the Road for Quebec Mine
Dec 14, 2013
At this point in time, the Jeffrey Mine exists in name only. Attempts by asbestos stakeholders to resurrect the mine were finally defeated when the new Marois government cancelled $58 million of government support (2012). An article just released suggests that although secret negotiations have been ongoing, as of December 31 the company will be liquidated and the contaminated mine will become an orphan site with potentially disastrous consequences for the population as well as local, regional and federal governments. It has been estimated that keeping the site safe could cost $2 million/year. See: Négociations secrètes chez Mine Jeffrey [Secret Negotiations at the Jeffrey Mine].
Workplace Health and Safety
Dec 12, 2013
WorkSafe NZ will begin work on Monday, December 16, 2013. Its focus will be on issues related to workplace health and safety; these issues were previously handled by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The new agency will make recommendations on legislative change and play a major role in the development of a health and safety strategy. An asbestos advisory panel is being set up under WorkSafe NZ. It is hoped that having examined the failure of the national asbestos policy, the panel will progress efforts to ban asbestos in New Zealand. See: WorkSafe New Zealand is being established.
Victory for Asbestos Victims
Dec 11, 2013
French asbestos victims yesterday welcomed a landmark decision by the Court of Cassation which ruled that executives of the multinational asbestos company Eternit and asbestos stakeholders who, for decades, progressed the industry's agenda must face criminal proceedings. This decision reversed a 2011 ruling that dismissed the case against nine asbestos defendants; the charges against the accused will now be considered by the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal. See: Martine Aubry reste mise en examen dans le dossier de l'aimante [Martine Aubry remains under examination in the asbestos case]; see also: ANDEVA Press Release.
Cancer Working Group Memorandum
Dec 11, 2013
A 109-page Memorandum from the Finnish Occupational Cancer Working Group uploaded on December 10, 2013, categorically states that there is an "indisputable" relationship between exposure to asbestos and cases of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer. Highlighting the deadly effects of asbestos exposures, the authors note that: "Today, lung cancer and mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos are definitely the most important types of diagnosed occupational cancers." See: Memorandum from the Finnish Occupational Cancer Working Group.
Progress on Asbestos Research Initiative
Dec 11, 2013
The National Centre for Asbestos-Related Diseases (NCARD), a collaborative effort nominally based in Perth, Western Australia, has issued a bumper newsletter which includes details of the iMig-NCARD October 26, 2013 Mesothelioma Symposium in Sydney, the second Australian Asbestos Forum in Sydney on November 25 during National Asbestos Awareness Week as well as progress on mesothelioma research projects and fund-raising initiatives. Articles on the work of eminent mesothelioma researchers Professors Bruce Robinson and Bill Musk are featured. See: NCARD Newsletter Vol 3 Issue 3 (December 2013).
British Asbestos Newsletter
Dec 11, 2013
The autumn 2013 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The feature article in Issue 92, The Mesothelioma Bill - A Gift to Insures, forensically examines the genesis and contents of a controversial bill currently being debated in the House of Commons. Author Tony Whitston reiterates the call by UK asbestos victims for 100% justice for the injured and for compensation to be provided for all asbestos victims. Other articles discuss pleural thickening litigation and a UK mesothelioma research initiative being spearheaded by the James Lind Alliance. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 92.
Urgent Asbestos Warning
Dec 6, 2013
On Thursday, December 5, 2013, experts from New Zealand and Australia addressed a conference in Christchurch and issued grave warnings about the post-earthquake consequences of asbestos exposure. Australian authorities on the asbestos hazard Craig Simmons and Professor Bill Musk used language which left the hundreds of delegates in no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation. Professor Musk said he was shocked by the huge potential for exposures in the city and warned that the country needs to immediately ban imports of asbestos. See: Asbestos risk in rebuild unprecedented experts; also see: New Zealand's Failing Asbestos Policy!.
Injured Mine Workers Petition Rejected
Dec 6, 2013
The Baie Verte asbestos mine in Newfoundland closed in 1995. Former mine workers who have contracted asbestos-related diseases have collaborated with union leaders and academics to set up a miners' registry in order to facilitate claims for compensation. Although the authorities welcomed this initiative, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has turned down a request for legislative changes to help the Baie Verte asbestos claimants. Dan Crummell, the Minister of Service for Newfoundland and Labrador rejected the miners' petition. See: Government says no to changes to help sick mine workers.
Asbestos Lobby Hits Delhi
Dec 6, 2013
At a two-day conference in the Indian capital this week, the asbestos roadshow laid out its wares of industry-commissioned research and arguments to bolster the sales pitch of asbestos profiteers in a country which has embraced asbestos technology. David Bernstein, the industry's preferred "scientist," led the pack with a presentation used to enforce the propaganda that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely under controlled conditions; the vast majority of the delegates represented Indian asbestos industry stakeholders. As of 2012, India had used over 7 million tonnes of asbestos; India is the world's biggest importer of asbestos. See: Picture of Speakers at Asbestos Industry Event.
Controversial Bill Goes to Commons
Dec 2, 2013
Today, The Mesothelioma Bill is being debated in the House of Commons having completed its passage through the House of Lords before the Summer recess. Asbestos victims, who have given a qualified welcome to the legislation, are urging MPs to make improvements which will recognize the suffering of all asbestos victims, increase payments to the injured and withdraw taxpayers' support for the insurance industry which, after extensive back room lobbying, is due to receive "Government largesse on an unprecedented scale." See: Press Release by Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK; also see: The Mesothelioma Bill - A Gift to Insurers.
Asbestos in Imported Rolling Stock
Nov 30, 2013
Veteran journalist Matt Peacock knows a thing or two about asbestos. He has spent the last 3 decades investigating asbestos stories in Australia and abroad. A Peacock exposé on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's primetime TV news show "7:30" on Tuesday (Nov. 26) is amongst the best he has done. Peacock revealed that ten locomotives imported from China which had asbestos-free certificates were not in fact free of asbestos. The trains were, according to specialists, contaminated with chrysotile asbestos. An eight-minute segment can be viewed online along with relevant documents including the analyst's report. See: Asbestos scare strikes Chinese imports to Australia.
Hazards of Increasing Asbestos Use
Nov 28, 2013
The occupational risks for people in the growing asbestos industry in Laos were highlighted in an article uploaded yesterday which predicted that national consumption could reach 9,000 tonnes/year. Ignorance about the human health hazards posed by asbestos exposures has enabled sales to increase without government or civil society opposition. This is changing. In July 2013 a 2-day conference entitled Working towards a National Strategy on Asbestos in Laos attracted widespread participation including the attendance of government officials from eight ministries, trade unionists, academics and experts. See: Fight Against Asbestos Goes Global.