Victory for Activists in Korea
On Tuesday August 2, 2011, a 10-person delegation from the Ban Asbestos Network of Korea (BANKO) met with senior executives from Hyundai Steel at the company's principal factory to discuss the company's hazardous use of asbestos-contaminated crushed serpentine ore.1 The BANKO delegation, which included academics, activists and asbestos victims, reiterated the demand for this dangerous practice to end.
A corporate spokesperson, who confirmed Hyundai's efforts to source safer materials, informed BANKO that the company's controversial use of serpentine will cease by the end of the month (August 2011). Investigations undertaken by Hyundai, he said, revealed that steelmakers in Japan and Germany could also be using contaminated raw materials in their factories.
BANKO has been working to raise awareness of the hazardous use of asbestos-contaminated crushed serpentine rock since the beginning of this year. In January, 2011, discussions were held with POSCO, a major Korean steelmaker, about its use of serpentine; the company ended this practice in February. BANKO members have undertaken research, organized press conferences and held demonstrations to highlight this issue. Further efforts will be undertaken to establish the situation regarding steelmaking elsewhere in Korea and abroad.
August 12, 2011
1 Kazan-Allen L. Hyndai Steel: A Corporate Criminal. July 31, 2011.