Ukraine’s Asbestos Debacle 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



Actions taken by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in June 2017 to protect citizens from exposures to asbestos were officially quashed last month (October 2017) by the Ministry of Justice which excluded the implementing regulations from the State Register.

The March 29, 2017 Order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine No. 339 “On Approval of State Sanitary Norms and Regulations On the Safety and Protection of Workers against Harmful Effects of Asbestos and Materials and Products Containing Asbestos,” which had been registered by Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice on June 9, 2017 under No. 702 / 30570, was expunged from the State Register of regulatory legal acts of ministries and other executive authorities on October 10, 2017.

The formalization of this move to undercut the capacity of Ukraine to act in the best interests of its citizens is further proof of the over-reaching influence of asbestos vested interests. The asbestos prohibitions had been announced on June 26, 2017 at a press conference in Kiev by Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister for Public Health and European Integration, who said that the prohibitions would be legally binding after a six month phase-out period.1


Oksana Syvak speaking on June 26, 2017 at Kiev press conference.

In an email exchange on November 7, 2017, a close observer of these developments said he was “outraged that an order by the Ministry of Health intended to protect Ukrainian citizens from deadly asbestos exposures has been killed off without significant explanations and contrary to the actions of European countries that banned the use of asbestos to protect human life and the environment.”

The derailing of the Ukraine asbestos ban may have a wider significance than just preserving Ukraine’s market for asbestos.2 On August 1, 2017, a bilateral trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine – The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) – came into effect under which “any refusal by Canada to accept asbestos products from Ukraine could be challenged by companies in Ukraine wishing to export asbestos-containing products to Canada and seeking compensation for ‘lost profits’.”3 As Russia and Kazakhstan, two of Ukraine’s closest neighbors, account for 65% of global asbestos production every year, there can be little doubt of their interest in exploiting this pact, by fair means or foul.

November 9, 2017


1 Kazan-Allen L. Ukraine Bans Asbestos! July 8, 2017

2 Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year.

3 Ruff K. Why does the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement include asbestos? November 7, 2017.



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