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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lka@btinternet.com

 

News text:

Jul 21, 2017

The Public Labor Ministry in Rio Grande do Sul reached an agreement in May 2017 with Isdralit, the last manufacturing company using chrysotile asbestos in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, to transition to an asbestos-free technology by November 10, 2017 and dispose of all toxic waste and contaminated products according to strict protocols. In addition, the company must establish a medical plan for all employees which provides periodic examinations for a period of 30 years. See: Com TAC, uso de amianto é banido na última indústria utilizadora da fibra no Estado [With TAC (the term of conduct adjustment), asbestos use is banned in the last fiber-using industry in the state].

Jul 21, 2017

Meetings in Hanoi took place on July 19 and 20, 2017 between international and local asbestos experts and government officials, representatives of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, civil society campaigners from the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network and other groups to consider the multifaceted nature of the asbestos challenges facing the country including the impact of hazardous exposures on human health, the availability of safer materials, and the problems regarding demolition and disposal of asbestos-containing materials. Technical and medical information presented by Canadian, Australian and Japanese speakers was warmly received. See: Photograph of discussion panel.

Jul 21, 2017

Litigation regarding the unconstitutionality of Brazil’s policy allowing the use of asbestos will once more be before the Supreme Court on August 10, 2017. At that time, the Court in Brasilia will hear submissions related to actions regarding the: legality of asbestos bans in São Paulo, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul and the national policy supporting “the controlled use” of a carcinogenic substance which, so the litigants contend, constitutes a violation of the human rights of Brazilians. A 2012 hearing was adjourned with no decision taken. See: Saúde em jogo: Supremo retoma julgamento sobre o uso do Amianto [Health at stake: Supreme resumes judgment on the use of asbestos].

Jul 21, 2017

A July article in the Vietnamese media detailed the death of a British woman from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Susan MacGregor died in 2014, 14 months after she had been diagnosed, aged 58. As a child, she had hugged her father when he returned home wearing asbestos-covered work clothes. The article cites evidence from the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency confirming the deadly nature of human exposure to asbestos. See: Niềm vui đón bố đi làm về không ngờ là lý do khiến người phụ nữ bị ung thư mà chết 50 năm sau đó [The joy of going to work resulted in cancer death of a woman 50 years later].

Jul 20, 2017

To minimize the risk of occupational asbestos exposures, the Government of Canada announced on July 12 an immediate reduction in workplace exposure limits for chrysotile asbestos. This policy change is part and parcel of the federal government’s plans for banning the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018. Welcoming the more stringent regulations, Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff said the lower threshold sent “a clear message” that asbestos should not be used and brought Canada “one step closer to the… complete ban of both import and export of asbestos.” See: Federal government lowers limit of exposure to airborne chrysotile asbestos.

Jul 20, 2017

On July 19, 2017, academics from Taiwan University launched a publication entitled “Deadly Dust” detailing the hazards posed to workers and the public from exposures to asbestos-containing materials and called on the government to implement measures to increase workplace and environmental protection. Professor Zheng Yawen informed journalists that people suffering from cancer caused by asbestos exposure have been diagnosed in Taiwan and that due to the presence of asbestos throughout Taiwan, more cases are anticipated especially amongst construction workers. See: 石綿致癌工人受害 學者憂政府漠視害命 [Academics concern over occupational asbestos hazard].

Jul 19, 2017

The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) has awarded a bursary to the Paraná branch of the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA), to purchase a set of ILO Classification Radiographs including ILO Standard Images of Pneumoconiosis, for the diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases by doctors from the State University in Londrina who are implementing a surveillance program for former workers from an ex-asbestos-cement plant belonging to the Infibra company. Thanking IBAS for this award, ABREA President Eliezer João De Souza said: “We are optimistic that the treatment of ABREA members will be improved by access to this new program.”

Jul 19, 2017

New data published in Italy documents a growth in the volume of asbestos waste generated and a fall in the availability of regulated waste sites resulting in the export of 145,000 tonnes of waste to Germany. At the current rate of remediation, it is estimated that decontamination of the country won’t be achieved until the next century with asbestos-related deaths continuing for a further 130 years. In 2015, 369,000 tonnes of asbestos-containing waste were produced in Italy. See: Amianto, cresce la produzione di rifiuti in Italia ma gli impianti per gestirla sono sempre meno [Asbestos, waste generation in Italy is growing, but the facilities for managing it are getting less and less].

Jul 18, 2017

An investigation by BBC London has established that 94% of the capitals’ hospitals contain asbestos products. Of the 1,000 London people who have died from the signature asbestos cancer, mesothelioma since 2011, seven were doctors or nurses. While the Health and Safety Executive and government agencies such as NHS Improvement, part of the Department of Health, attempt to downplay the dangers posed by this contamination, others have claimed that the situation is tantamount to a “ticking time bomb.” An interview with the widow of a surgeon who died from mesothelioma details widespread use and uncontrolled exposures experienced by NHS staff. See: Hospital asbestos ‘a ticking time bomb’.

Jul 18, 2017

Members of Parliament representing areas on the Peloponnese peninsular in Western Greece have demanded answers from the government regarding the environmental asbestos hazard and plans, reported by the Greek Ecological Research Center, to build a landfill dumpsite for asbestos and radioactive industrial waste in the region. The government’s proposals, which have never been submitted to the Region of Western Greece for consultation, are being challenged by communities in and around the Peloponnese provinces of Achaia and Arcadia. See: Παρέμβαση βουλευτών για τον καρκινογόνο αμίαντο στην παραλία Δρεπάνου Αχαΐας [Members' intervention on carcinogenic asbestos at Drepanos Achaia beach].

Jul 18, 2017

The Ukrainian Center for Steel Development has warned of the escalation of building costs following the recent announcement by the Ukraine Ministry of Health (MoH) that asbestos use and imports would be banned in six months. Two thirds of Ukraine’s asbestos imports come from Russia with the remainder coming from Kazakhstan. An asbestos industry trade association – the Ukrainian Chrysotile Association – is calling on the government to reverse the decision taken by the MoH. In 2015, Ukraine consumed 12,070 tonnes of asbestos. See: Запрет асбеста в Украине затронет ещё один стройматериал [Prohibition of asbestos in Ukraine will affect another building material].

Jul 17, 2017

Following the announcement that the Portuguese Government had set a 2020 deadline for the removal of asbestos from all of the country’s 4,200 public buildings, politicians from the Green Ecological Party (ENP) have increased their calls for a government policy which mandates the same deadline for buildings in private ownership. The ENP has presented a bill in Parliament which proposes that a program for the identification of all companies which own buildings and/or installations containing asbestos materials be set up. See: Verdes querem remoção de amianto também em edifícios de empresas privadas [Greens want asbestos removal also in private business buildings].

Jul 17, 2017

News of a public health scam has been reported by the Kenyan media which details corporate and government collusion to off-load toxic asbestos waste at a dump site in the town of Kitui, 180 kilometers from Nairobi. Villagers, who had been told that designated farmland was to be the site of a new hotel, were amazed when they saw huge earth moving machines dig four large holes into which tons of asbestos waste were illegally dumped under orders from representatives of Sonata Kenya Ltd. and Earth Care Company – overseen by officials from the National Environment Management Authority. Local people are demanding the removal of the toxic material. See: Deadly fibre: Kitui residents live in mortal fear of asbestos exposure.

Jul 17, 2017

A Spanish language online article highlights the health hazards posed by asbestos-containing water pipes to maintenance workers as well as members of the public and points out that these toxic water networks have, after several decades, finally come to the end of their usefulness. Increased awareness of the asbestos hazard, partially due to political lobbying, has led to public pressure for replacement by asbestos-free pipes to be made a priority issue in several Spanish cities including: Calviá, Tavernes, Los Corrales, Cieza, Castro, Boadilla, Murcia, etc. See: Amianto por un tubo [Asbestos Through a Tube].

Jul 12, 2017

Following its second survey of asbestos in schools undertaken in 2016, Japan’s Education Ministry announced last week that 227 institutions in 14 of the country’s 47 prefectures had chimneys using asbestos as heat insulation. Local governments responsible for the 227 public kindergartens, elementary, junior high and high schools with old chimneys that may scatter asbestos were instructed to address this matter. Amongst the public schools with risky chimneys, Hokkaido had 116 schools, the largest number, followed by Ishikawa Prefecture, with 34, and Tokyo, with 22. See: Japan study finds chimneys at 227 public schools at risk for scattering asbestos.

Jul 11, 2017

Asbestos found in the drivers’ carriages of the T5 train line in Sydney on July 6, 2017 led to a suspension of services after a strike was called by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW Locomotive Division. In a statement, the RTBU said that “asbestos dust or particles had been found between March and June 2017 within the Flemington and Hornsby Maintenance Centres.” Commenting on the “wholly inadequate” response by Sydney Trains, a union spokesperson said action will continue “until such time as Sydney Trains can provide satisfactory information to allay concerns of members.” See: Chaos for commuters as Sydney's T5 train line suddenly closes until further notice and drivers announce a snap strike over deadly asbestos.

Jul 20, 2017

The number of cross-border ban asbestos initiatives is escalating on an almost weekly basis with victims, family members as well as academic and technical experts travelling far afield to collaborate with like-minded colleagues. This month alone, we have seen groups of Japanese delegates visit the UK on an asbestos solidarity mission, while UK, Australian, Indian and Indonesian campaigners have taken part in activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the Ban Asbestos Network of Japan. Throughout the Mekong region, a ban asbestos roadshow has visited Cambodia, Laos and other countries to generate support for asbestos bans through the provision of up-to-date data and independent research. [Read full article]

Jul 17, 2017

A press release dated July 14, 2017 details efforts made by representatives of 13 Cambodian Ministries and trade unions to build capacity regarding the asbestos hazard, during a 5-day training initiative which took place in Siem Reap from July 10 to July14, 2017. Amongst the featured speakers were Canadian expert Professor Yv Bonnier-Viger, Dr. Rokho Kim (WHO), Mr. Jungho Choi (ILO), and Peter Tighe, Nick Miller and Phillip Hazelton (Australia). The initiative was organised by Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) in collaboration with multiple partners including the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. As a result of these meetings, work will begin on a Cambodian Asbestos Profile as the first step towards a national ban. [Read full article]

Jul 9, 2017

On June 16, 2017, South Africa’s Youth Day, scores of schoolchildren, teaching staff and school governors were brought together by the non-governmental organization Asbestos Interest Group to take part in an asbestos outreach activity in Kuruman, a former asbestos mining area in the Northern Cape Province. Participants from nine local schools received information about the area’s environmental asbestos hazard, took part in a candle lighting ceremony and created artwork depicting the region’s asbestos legacy. Trophies were presented to primary and intermediate level pupils whose entries won prizes in the art competition. [Read full article]

Jul 7, 2017

At the conclusion of an international asbestos seminar held in Manchester on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 asbestos victims’ groups from Europe, Asia and Australia issued a solidarity statement in the run-up to Action Mesothelioma Day (July 7) condemning the behaviour of asbestos companies in their home countries and the continuing activities of those seeking to profit from “this industry of mass destruction.” “The existence of the global asbestos trade,” is they wrote “an anathema and an abomination.” Paying tribute to the asbestos dead, they expressed their determination to continue the campaign to shut down the global asbestos trade and progress justice for all those who have been injured. [Read full article]

Jun 26, 2017

At a press conference held today in Kiev, Ukraine, the Ministry of Health announced that the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile (white) asbestos is being banned in Ukraine. The new regulations were achieved in the face of fierce opposition from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists. This is no surprise given that amongst Ukraine’s neighbors are two countries which account for around 65% of global asbestos output. Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year. This ban will adversely impact on the financial prospects of Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies, however, perhaps of even greater import is the strategic significance of Ukraine’s action. [Read full article]

June 20, 2017

On June 8, 2017, an international asbestos conference was held in Bologna, Italy, an area with a high incidence of asbestos mortality due to hazardous exposures in the railway industry, at asbestos-cement production facilities, at a local plant which manufactured waterproofing materials and at power stations. Representatives of asbestos victims’ groups from Italy and Brazil updated delegates on progress achieved and challenges remaining in the struggle for asbestos justice. Trade unionists, scientists, an author, a teacher, a Mayor and campaigners – including Dr Agata Mazzeo whose PhD dissertation focused on the fight for asbestos victims’ rights in Brazil and Italy – also made presentations. [Read full article]

Jun 19, 2017

In the run-up to the UK’s annual Action Mesothelioma Day, this press release by UK and Japanese groups confirms the attendance at events in five cities of members of a Japanese delegation of asbestos victims, relatives and campaigners. Speaking on behalf of the visitors, Sugio Furuya said that: “The members of our delegation are eager to show solidarity with UK victims and to share experiences in order to progress the campaigns for asbestos justice at home and abroad.” See: Japanese version of this press release or for the English version select the “Read full article" link. [Read full article]

May 30, 2017

A seminar entitled “Accountability in Shipbreaking” took place in London this month. Amongst the speakers were six leading experts on the current situation regarding the annual disposal of hundreds of sea-going vessels on tidal beaches in Asia. The contentious disposal of the North Sea Producer – an oil and gas floating production storage and offloading vessel based for many years 250 km north-east of Aberdeen – was discussed. The export of the ship from the UK on May 17, 2016, its arrival in Bangladesh on August 14, 2016 and plans for its demolition at a yard in Chittagong contravened international instruments intended to prevent industrialized countries from dumping toxic ships in developing countries. [Read full article]

May 11, 2017

This report, prepared by the Peoples Training & Research Centre for the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) and launched at press conferences in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi on Friday, April 28, 2017 (International Workers’ Memorial Day), delineates the scale of India’s asbestos tragedy. News coverage about the publication of this ground-breaking document (see: Gujarat tops India with 49 percent use in hazardous asbestos, causing occupational disease, cancer: Report ) highlighted the high incidence of disability and disease amongst workers from power plants, asbestos mines, asbestos cement factories and small processing units. [Read full article]

May 10, 2017

The deliberations of hundreds of international delegates in Geneva and the actions of United Nations personnel involved in the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, which drew to a close on May 5, 2017, were closely monitored by the global community of campaigners working to prevent human exposures to dangerous chemicals such as white asbestos. Commenting on the “moral cowardice and corruption” at the Convention, Brian Kohler, from the IndustriALL Global Union, said: “Hundreds of thousands will die as the result of the inaction of the Parties to the Convention, who chose to cave in to fierce lobbying and bullying by financial interests rather than do what they know is right.” [Read full article]

Mar 30, 2017

A historic victory was achieved on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 when the Brussels Court of Appeal upheld a ruling condemning the Belgian asbestos multinational Eternit for environmental asbestos exposure which killed Françoise Vannoorbeek-Jonckheere in 2000. In a 15-page judgment, the three judge panel concluded that Eternit had known asbestos was a carcinogenic substance since the 1970s but had failed to protect workers or local people from hazardous exposures as a result of which Françoise, who lived near the company’s factory in Kapelle-op-den-Bos for decades, contracted the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Eternit asbestos victims around the world will be heartened and inspired by this news. [Read full article]

Mar 20, 2017

In a few weeks, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention (RC) on the Prior Informed Consent Procedures for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will meet for the eighth time. Pivotal to the success of the meeting and, indeed to the long-term viability of this multinational Convention, will be the decision taken regarding the inclusion of chrysotile (white) asbestos on a list of substances subject to mandatory trade regulations. In light of the intransigence of asbestos lobbyists and the delegations which support them at the RC, a proposal by the African Group of Nations may be the last hope for the Convention’s survival. [Read full article]

Feb 19, 2017

An analysis has been uploaded of a proposed trade deal between India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which highlights the injustice and deadly consequences of allowing untaxed imports to India of asbestos, an acknowledged human carcinogen, from Russia and Kazakhstan in return for duty-free Indian exports of gherkins, cucumbers and other non carcinogenic produce to the EAEU. The 259-page report on which the contentious treaty is based is also uploaded. It is of relevance to note that while the report has been circulated this month (February 2017) to selected stakeholders, ban asbestos activists in India did not receive copies of this document from government sources. [Read full article]

Feb 7, 2017

News released last week by organizations nearly 5,000 miles apart confirm the existence and scale of an unfolding disaster in shipbreaking on tidal beaches in South Asia which accounted last year (2016) for 87% of all tonnage dismantled. Research by the Brussels-based NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation revealed multiple failures by the shipping industry to safely manage the disposal of end-of-life vessels and the deadly impact of hazardous working practices on the lives of shipbreaking workers. Conditions in Bangladesh’s yards are “known to be the worst;” in 2016, 22 workers died with a further 29 suffering serious injuries. [Read full article]

Feb 1, 2017

A presentation made in Japan at the Tokyo Institute of Technology on January 29 delineated current asbestos consumption and production trends around the world, using graphics, charts and maps to underscore areas at most risk from increasing usage. Efforts and progress made in 2016 and 2017 by grassroots campaigners in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe were highlighted; the important work of asbestos victims’ groups was recognized. Some examples of the fightback by asbestos vested interests were discussed including a 2016 revelation of an asbestos espionage operation run by a UK intelligence agency based in London. [Read full article]

Jan 16, 2017

Calculations undertaken for this article suggest that the global trade in deadly asbestos is still worth billions of dollars. Industry stakeholders in producing and consuming nations remain determined to continue business as usual despite the medical and scientific consensus that the best way to end the global epidemic of asbestos diseases is to stop the use of asbestos. The asbestos industry playbook includes a number of well-honed tactics, some of which are illegal and most amoral and unjust. This text documents how corporate wealth has been weaponized and ban asbestos campaigners have been targeted in the pursuit of ever more profits for this industry of mass destruction. [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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Asbestos Trade Data (2014)

Top Five Producers (tonnes):
   Russia1,100,000
   China400,000
   Brazil284,000
   Kazakhstan240,000
   India270
 Top Five Users
(tonnes):
   Russia608,000
   China507,000
   India379,000
   Brazil154,000
   Kazakhstan68,000