International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



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Nov 30, 2015

A message sent by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to the chair of this week’s meeting of the National Assembly on Asbestos confirms his “personal support” and “shared commitment to implement policies and actions that allow for the closure, once and for all, of this open wound caused by asbestos.” In his message of solidarity, the PM writes of the progress achieved in dealing with Italy’s asbestos legacy but acknowledges that much remains to be done. See: Amianto: Renzi,ferita aperta va chiusa una volta per tutte [Asbestos: Renzi, open wound should be closed once and for all].

Nov 30, 2015

On Friday, November 27, 2015, near the end of Australia’s asbestos awareness month, one of the country’s leading asbestos awareness websites launched two new modules to help homeowners identify asbestos-containing materials in and around their homes. These resources consist of a video (Asbestos in Your Home) and a database listing common products (Online Asbestos Product Database) This material is a result of collaborative efforts led by the Asbestos Education Committee.

Nov 30, 2015

Investigations by the Turin Public Prosecutor into allegations made by military personnel exposed to asbestos in twenty helicopters are proceeding. According to lawyer Carla Delle Fave who is representing claimants, the situation is clear: as a result of criminal exposures which took place because of the negligence of managers, individuals inhaled carcinogenic fibers. The malignant diseases which have been contracted are a consequence of these exposures. See: Roma, amianto sugli elicotteri della Finanza: piloti ammalati [Rome, investigations proceeding over pilots’ asbestos illnesses due to the contamination of helicopters].

Nov 30, 2015

Refugees on the island of Nauru have told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that they had been hired to remove asbestos from the island’s houses without protective equipment or clothing and that the debris was being carelessly disposed of as part of a multimillion dollar housing renovation program being funded by the government. The authorities have told the ABC that: “This program is safe… (and) No refugees are involved in this project.” According to the ABC, photographs of unsafe working conditions and lack of basic protection substantiated the allegations. See: Safety concerns for refugees and workers as Nauru asbestos removal program kicks off.

Nov 27, 2015

After a 2014 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which condemned the Swiss time bar that prevented most asbestos victims from bringing personal injury lawsuits, yesterday (November 26) a federal tribunal gave leave for the case brought by the daughters of a Swiss asbestos victim who died in 2005 to be referred to the Baden Labour Court for a rehearing. In 2009, the Labour Court dismissed this claim because of a ten year limitation period; two other courts upheld that decision. See: Pour le TF, la prescription dans les affaires d'amiante n'est plus absolue [A decision by the Federal Tribunal ruled that the time bar regarding asbestos claims is not absolute].

Nov 27, 2015

The family of a bartender who died aged 74 on December 25, 2014 from asbestos diseases was awarded compensation of €740,000 by a Labour Court on November 25, 2015. The bar where he worked for twenty years was across the street from Bologna’s railway yard where thousands of workers had been exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. It is possible that further claims for damages will be brought in this case. See: Bologna, barista morì per l’amianto: risarcita con 740mila euro [Bologna: barista dies from asbestos; compensation paid €740,000].

Nov 26, 2015

In a paper published online by Swiss medical researchers, the influence of second-line treatment after the recurrence of malignant pleural mesothelioma in patients who had previously undergone multimodality treatment between September 1999 and October 2014 is considered. The findings from the cohort studied suggest that although repeated surgical intervention can produce a “good long-term outcome in selected patients,” more research is needed to confirm these results. See: Relapse pattern and second-line treatment following multimodality treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Nov 26, 2015

Leading Australian asbestos campaigners told reporters in Canberra yesterday that Australia had an obligation to help eradicate the asbestos hazard in Asia. Peter Tighe, the CEO of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, said: “We don't want that [asbestos] legacy to increase because manufactured goods in Asia still contain this deadly carcinogen,” after he, Senator Lisa Singh and Senator Nick Xenophon met a delegation of ban asbestos campaigners from Laos and Vietnam at Parliament House; the activists had spoken at a meeting of the Parliamentary Group on Asbestos earlier in the day. See: Australia should help Asia ban asbestos.

Nov 26, 2015

On November 17, 2015, a Parliamentary response was promulgated which responded to a question put on February 3, 2015 by Josette Pons, MP for the district of Var to the Minister of Social Affairs regarding the status of compensation for asbestos anxiety for people exposed to asbestos at work. The Ministerial Statement reviewed the agencies and parties upon whom workers can make claims for this condition and acknowledged the “specific anxiety [of] harm” and the “psychological disorders engendered by the knowledge of this risk by employees.” See: Compensation for “Asbestos Anxiety” in France; Government Response to Written Question.

Nov 25, 2015

At a ceremony in New Delhi on Monday, November 23, 2015, New Delhi-based correspondent Katy Daigle received the foreign correspondent Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for her 2014 series exposing the damage done to public health and the environment by India’s asbestos industry. The award, considered to be India’s most prestigious journalism prize, was presented by India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for Daigle’s features which highlighted how sales were flourishing in India of a substance widely regarded by the developed world as a deadly poison. See: AP Staffers Win Prestigious Indian Journalism Awards.

Nov 25, 2015

Italy’s Asbestos Observatory (ONA) is holding a conference on Saturday, November 28, 2015 in Modena to examine the hazards posed by asbestos contamination of drinking water, public buildings, domestic properties and workplaces. According to epidemiological data collected by ONA there is a “higher incidence of gastrointestinal and biliary tract (cancer) among workers exposed to asbestos and citizens who ingested asbestos dissolved in the water.” These findings substantiate conclusions reached by the International Agency for Research on Cancer regarding the asbestos cancer risk. See: Amianto, Ona: rischi anche nell'acqua potabile [Asbestos, ONA: risks in drinking water].

Nov 24, 2015

Contracts worth millions of dollars have been signed, whereby Dunedin City Council will allow contractors from Christchurch to dispose of thousands of tonnes of asbestos-contaminated soil at the Green Island landfill dumpsite. The transport of the waste, which began last month, should be finished by Christmas according to Nic McEwan, Managing Director of McEwan Haulage. McEwan admitted that the decision to move the waste, which resulted from excavations carried out by the New Zealand Transport Agency during road building, was made on financial grounds. See: Christchurch asbestos fill headed for Dunedin.

Nov 24, 2015

Due to the scale of the legal proceedings against former Olivetti executives and the number of parties involved, the trial which will begin on January 11, 2016 has been moved from the assigned courtroom to a music school auditorium in the town of Ivrea. Amongst those who have been indicted for manslaughter and failing to protect former employees from asbestos exposures are Olivetti executives, directors and managers from the 1970s to 1990s. See: Processo Olivetti, respinte le richieste delle difese sulle parti civili [Defense requests rejected in Olivetti case].

Nov 24, 2015

On November 20, 2015, the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) reaffirmed its call on the European Commission to take urgent action on the EU’s asbestos crisis by seeking innovative solutions to multi-faceted challenges such as remediating asbestos contamination in conjunction with renewing building stock and improving energy efficiency. “The EFBWW sees in this both an opportunity for growth and innovation in the construction sector, and the opportunity to join a range of related, but in our view insufficiently connected, policy areas in a holistic way.” See: Letter by the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers, November 20, 2015.

Nov 23, 2015

Speaking on CNN Chile yesterday (November 22, 2015), oncologist Dr. Francisco Javier Orlandi issued a stark warning that the incidence of the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma is due to rise in Chile amongst at-risk cohorts, such as construction workers, in the decades to come. The medical expert called for preventative action to be taken by the government to eradicate the hazard and protect human health. See: Francisco Javier Orlandi profundizó en el mesotelioma o cáncer de asbesto [Francisco Javier Orlandi deepened in mesothelioma or asbestos cancer].

Nov 23, 2015

The volunteers of the Asbestos Disease Society of Australia (ADSA) who took part in a fund-raising walk from Albany to Perth, Western Australia in September 2015 were motivated by their desire to fund life-saving research being progressed in Perth. The walkers’ efforts raised $85,000 which was presented today – the first day of Australia’s Asbestos Awareness week (November 23) – at an informal ceremony to Professor Anna Nowak, a medical oncologist and researcher who specializes in mesothelioma. For 35 years, the ADSA has supported Australia’s asbestos victims and collaborated with researchers to find a cure for deadly asbestos diseases. See: ADSA Press Release.

Nov 25, 2015

A workshop entitled “Using Chrysotile Safe (sic) and Under Control” was held in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 18, 2015. The title is a poorly translated adaptation of discredited asbestos industry rhetoric extolling the “safe use of asbestos.” The pro-asbestos stance of the speakers at the event organized by the Roofing Sheet Association was challenged by civil society representatives who have been mobilizing support for a Vietnam asbestos ban over recent years. Commenting on the failure of the lobbyists to convince delegates that asbestos could be used safely in Vietnam or elsewhere, Dr. Tuan Tran said: “the speakers’ motivation and lack of credence were obvious.” [Read full article]

Nov 12, 2015

November is asbestos awareness month in Australia. Personal initiatives taking place this month are complimented by more formal activities such as public outreach projects on the east coast, ecumenical services on the west coast and various activities in between. With the world’s only Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, Australia is at the cutting edge of efforts to deal with the industrial and environmental legacy of asbestos use. Despite all that is being done, residents in the toxic town of Baryulgil, New South Wales continue to die prematurely decades after the asbestos mine was closed. Compensation is rarely obtained and medical services are woeful. [Read full article]

Oct 16, 2015

Recognizing that Britain is in the grip of an “asbestos crisis,” a Parliamentary Group has today called for the complete eradication of the asbestos hazard in a report entitled: “The asbestos crisis. Why Britain needs an eradication law.” This move closely follows a demand that the European Commission “create and finance a Europe-wide programme aimed at the removal of all asbestos from public and private buildings.” It is now well past time for the governments in Westminster and Brussels to confront their respective asbestos challenges and heed the demands from civil society for “a safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place…” [Read full article]

Oct 5, 2015

A paper presented at Mesothelioma UK’s 10th Patients and Carer Day, which was held in Stratford-upon-Avon on October 2, 2015, was entitled: Asbestos – What Would Shakespeare Say? The presentation examined the history of the global asbestos industry and highlighted explosive new mortality data; the author considered how Britain’s most renowned dramatist might have reacted to the deadly epidemic taking hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Examples of recent grassroots activities undertaken in Colombia, India, Vietnam and South Africa were discussed with the speaker reaffirming the commitment of the global ban asbestos movement to an asbestos-free future. [Read full article]

Sep 29, 2015

European asbestos victims and campaigning groups have issued this press release to highlight statistics presented today at the 2015 conference of the European Trade Union Confederation which document the huge death toll caused by exposure to asbestos in the European Union (EU). According to the new estimates, there are 47,000 EU deaths from just two types of asbestos-related cancer every year. Commenting on the findings of the paper: Eliminating Occupational Cancer in Europe, Laurie Kazan-Allen, Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, called on the authorities to “make good on their promise to constitute a European Asbestos Taskforce as a matter of utmost urgency.” [Read full article]

Sep 25, 2015

In a press release issued on September 14, 2015 headlined “The government buries individual access,” the French National Association for the Defense of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) denounced a report used by the government to reject calls for wider access to social security benefits, including early retirement, for asbestos-exposed workers. The decision was, ANDEVA said, based on a financial analysis of costs that was “utterly wrong, both morally and technically.” In an attempt to clarify the issues involved, questions were put to Marc Hindry, an ANDEVA spokesman; the dialogue which ensued confirms the Government’s determination to minimize liabilities at the expense of the injured. [Read full article]

Sep 22, 2015

This month we mark the 15th anniversary of the ground-breaking Global Asbestos Congress 2000: Past, Present and Future [Congresso Mundial do Amianto: Passado, Presente e Futuro] (GAC 2000) which took place over four days (September 17-20, 2000) in Osasco, Brazil, a municipality that was for decades the site of Latin America’s largest asbestos-cement complex. In a tribute to the vision of GAC 2000 pioneers, delegates from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America have described the impact the Congress had, not only on campaigns for asbestos victims’ rights in their home countries but also on the global struggle for social and environmental justice. [Read full article]

Sep 21, 2015

Recalling the participation of several South Africans in the world’s first asbestos victims’ event, Dr. Sophia Kisting – the Executive Director of South Africa’s National Institute for Occupational Health – described the impact of this experience on the delegation: “For South Africans, just about six years into our change from the cruel divisions of apartheid, it was a glimpse of the possibilities of a constitutional democracy to help redress the crippling inequalities and divisions of the past.” Expressing “deep appreciation” on behalf of her colleagues, Dr. Kisting highlighted the importance of international solidarity in the global struggle against asbestos injustice. [Read full article]

Sep 17, 2015

Rochdale Borough Council approved plans on September 16, 2015 for airborne testing for asbestos contamination around the former site of Turner Brothers Asbestos, in its heyday the world’s largest facility for asbestos manufacturing. The cost of the environmental monitoring at the 72 acre privately-owned property will be borne by the Council. Members of the Save Spodden Valley campaign, who have derided the scheme as a public relations exercise which fails to address the complex challenges posed by the legacy of decades of asbestos production, are calling for a robust, open and scientific approach. [Read full article]

Sep 8, 2015

This paper – from the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at Stirling University – will be discussed today (September 8, 2015) at the Scottish Parliament by politicians, trade unionists, asbestos victims’ advocates and campaigners. In their briefing, the Stirling University researchers call on the Scottish Parliament to “resolve negative impacts on claimants and their families” resulting from the compensation regime under which pleural plaques victims must relinquish potentially larger compensation awards for asbestos-related diseases contracted in the future to receive smaller one-off payouts for pleural plaques now. [Read full article]

Sep 7, 2015

In August 2015, campaigners in Colombia took the ban asbestos fight into new forums and destinations; raising the profile of the country’s asbestos scandal at academic conferences and art exhibitions, and in public spaces. On August 20, artist Guillermo Villamizar discussed the case of asbestos entrepreneur, billionaire, art collector and “philanthropist” Stephen Schmidheiny, formerly head of one of the world’s largest global asbestos conglomerates, during a presentation at an event in Cali. The next week an art show opened in Bogotá called “The law of diminishing returns” featuring an installation by Guillermo Villamizar entitled ASBESTOS: Lungs of capitalism. [Read full article]

Sep 1, 2015

The conference “Freeing Europe Safely from Asbestos” took place in Brussels on June 24, 2015; speakers included EU officials, politicians and representatives of labor organizations, victims’ groups and campaigning bodies. In several presentations, frustrations were expressed about a chaotic and ineffective asbestos policy which was adding to the hazards posed by millions of tonnes of toxic material within EU infrastructures and environments. Ms. Rënstrom, the Chair of the Committee of the Regions Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment and Culture, spoke many delegates when she said that excuses by European Commission officials would no longer be tolerated. [Read full article]

Aug 22, 2015

In the run-up to Canada’s upcoming federal elections, asbestos victims, trade unions, campaigning bodies and newspaper editors have called for a comprehensive and unilateral ban on the mining of asbestos and the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products. The resurgence of ban asbestos support has attracted media interest with two pro-ban editorials appearing last month (July 2015) in influential daily newspapers. For decades, Canada was at the heart of the global asbestos industry. The time for a reckoning has come. Canada must admit its part in the worldwide asbestos conspiracy and make amends. A national ban is the logical first step. [Read full article]

Aug 13,2015

Over the years, especially since the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, there has been periodic media coverage of the failings of the New Zealand authorities to take action to prevent hazardous asbestos exposures. This insightful article provides details of a situation which is totally out of control – where inexperienced and untrained individuals are allowed to conduct “asbestos surveys” despite a lack of appropriate qualifications and expertise. The author Craig Newsome, who holds a qualification from the British Occupational Hygiene Society in Buildings Surveys and Bulk Sampling for Asbestos, explains what customers should look for when they hire an asbestos surveyor. [Read full article]

Jul 27, 2015

In light of recent revelations by US campaigners of the discovery of asbestos contamination in crayons and fingerprinting kits, UK groups are urging government bodies to prioritize the threat posed by asbestos in imported goods. A spokesman for the Forum of Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups highlights the need for the monitoring of imports while campaigner Laurie Kazan-Allen calls for prison sentences for importers and distributors of toxic products in a media release issued today. Members of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee recommend a national campaign to raise public awareness about the asbestos hazards in schools and homes. [Read full article]

Jul 20, 2015

On July 24, 2015, Judge Federica Bompieri will hand down an eagerly awaited decision to a court in Turin, Italy. She will decide whether or not to comply with a request from Public Prosecutors for a new criminal trial against asbestos billionaire Stephen Schmidheiny. Although Schmidheiny had been found guilty by lower courts of causing a permanent environmental disaster as a result of which thousands of Italians died, these verdicts were overturned by the Italian Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) in November 2014 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. In the new case, the defendant is facing charges of manslaughter, a crime for which there is no statute of limitations. [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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