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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lka@btinternet.com

 

News text:

May 29, 2017

The Spring 2017 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is available online. The lead article entitled Asbestos Politics 2017 is both informative and timely as it highlights policies of political parties regarding the asbestos contamination of schools. While the Labour Party promises to resolve this health hazard, cuts by the Conservative Government to council budgets in September 2017 will ensure that dangerous conditions prevail for years to come. Documents issued by relevant authorities including the Health and Safety Executive, the National Audit Office, the Education Funding Agency and the Local Government Association are discussed. See: Issue 103, British Asbestos Newsletter.

May 29, 2017

The illegal dumping of toxic waste in New South Wales has become endemic; when criminals are punished for repeatedly flouting environmental laws, fines handed out are minimal – they are described by the removalists’ association as “a joke” – and orders for remediation work unenforceable according to a two-part exposé published on May 28 and 29. The example is cited of the 33,000 tonnes of asbestos-riddled waste dumped on Sydney’s “Misty Mountain” 16 years ago; the toxic site continues to endanger the health of local people. The names and photographs of removalists whose criminal practices are long-standing and well-known are included in the article. See: Toxic State – The Asbestos Game.

May 25, 2017

A new visual resource has been developed by BaliFokus, a member of the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network (INABAN), to raise awareness of the hazard posed to children by the use of asbestos-cement roofing and lead paint at schools. BaliFokus staff in Bali and in Jakarta work closely with partnering organizations in the government and in civil society to educate professionals on the hazardous nature of these products, reach out to at-risk workers and progress the national dialogue on toxic substances. See: Video Stop Penggunaan Cat Bertimbal dan Atap Asbes di Sekolah [Video: Stop the use of asbestos and lead at schools].

May 25, 2017

A 70-minute documentary, entitled Do Not Breath – Contains Asbestos, exposing Brazil’s asbestos disaster will be screened at the Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival on June 2, 2017 in São Paulo. The film features conclusive proof revealing dangerous occupational practices involving asbestos-containing materials and filmed segments showing industry leaders asserting that the use of asbestos in Brazil is safe. The damage to workers is substantiated through first person interviews with asbestos disease sufferers, family members, scientists and medical experts. See: Não Respire – Contém Amianto (Trailer em português) [Do Not Breath – Contains Asbestos (Trailer in Portuguese)]. For Facebook users see also: Trailer in English.

May 24, 2017

Researchers from the University of Ljubljana and the Institute of Oncology have published findings of a Slovenian study examining the differing responses of individual malignant mesothelioma patients to chemotherapy treatment with gemcitabine/cisplatin or pemetrexed/cisplatin. An algorithm was developed for recommending individual treatment protocols based on genotyping of 189 patients which could, by enabling the choice of the most effective chemotherapy for 85.5% of mesothelioma patients, lead to improved treatment outcome. See: Clinical-pharmacogenetic models for personalized cancer treatment: application to malignant mesothelioma.

May 23, 2017

A public rally is being held today (Tuesday May 23, 2017), outside the Palace of Fuensalida, the headquarters of the Government of Castile-La Mancha. Members of a local campaign – “My neighborhood without asbestos” – are demanding regional action to resolve long-standing and extensive asbestos contamination of the Polygon area of Toledo. The group has estimated that there is more than 90,000 tons of asbestos throughout the community, most of which came from the former Ibertubo asbestos factory. See: El llamamiento de los vecinos para la retirada “inmediata” del Amianto del barrio del Polígono [Local people demand the “immediate” removal of asbestos in the Polygon neighborhood of Toledo].

May 23, 2017

The Regulatory Accountability Act, dubbed the “License to Kill Bill” which passed in the House of Representatives is now being considered by the US. Senate. Environmental and scientific experts are worried that the legislation could make regulation of polluting industries more difficult and have dire consequences for the health and safety of American citizens. If the act became law, the implementation of an EPA asbestos ban would face enormous obstacles and additional requirements. Of course, that would suit President Trump who said in his book The Art of the Comeback that asbestos had “got a bad rap.” See: The "License to Kill" Bill Is As Terrifying As It Sounds.

May 23, 2017

Fifteen claimants have brought an asbestos lawsuit in the Yamaguchi district court for hazardous occupational exposures experienced between 1954 and 2011 at factories belonging to the Ube Board Company (now in liquidation) in Ube City, Osaka City and Fuji City, Japan. Some of the plaintiffs are suffering from asbestos-related diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma; others have already died from their asbestos injuries. The lawsuit is claiming millions of yen in damages from the Japanese State and the company, which was a building materials manufacturer. See: アスベスト被害で国を提訴 [Suing the State for Asbestos Injuries].

May 22, 2017

Laos now ranks amongst the world’s major importers of asbestos; it has 16 asbestos processing factories, 3 of which are in the province of Luang Prabang, a world heritage city of golden temples. According to Phillip Hazleton, from Australia’s Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA: “In 2013 Laos imported 8000 tonnes of chrysotile but the figure may be closer to 12,000 tonnes. In 2010 it was only 3000 tonnes of raw asbestos. Laos is not known for its scrupulous import records. But what is clear is that while India and China may be greater net importers, Laos imports more per capita than anywhere else.” See: Asbestos: Out of sight but not out of mind in Asia.

May 22, 2017

On May 20, 2017, asbestos victims’ groups represented by ABREA and Brazil’s main national trade union center CUT (the Central Única dos Trabalhadores/ Unified Workers' Central Federation), agreed to instigate a public civil action lawsuit in Brazil on behalf of former employees of Brasilit/Saint-Gobain for their occupational asbestos exposures in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Similar actions are already ongoing against Brazil’s asbestos giant Eternit S.A. in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Paraná. The use of asbestos remains legal in Brazil under federal legislation; however, several states and cities have taken unilateral action and banned asbestos.

May 20, 2017

On Friday, May 19, 2017 three thousand construction workers held a mass outdoor meeting in Tokyo to mark the ninth anniversary of the first asbestos class action by construction workers in Japan. To date, there have been six judgments by district courts, five of which held the government responsible and one of which acknowledged the responsibility of the manufacturers of construction materials. The first high court judgment will be handed down in Autumn 2017. In the photograph below, the items held up – traditional paper fans called “uchiwa” – have the Japanese words for “apologize, compensate and eliminate” emblazoned across them. See: Picture of May 19, 2017 Tokyo demonstration.

May19, 2017

Ban asbestos campaigners from 48 cities and towns took part in a conference in São Paulo this week. Even though the 2007 São Paulo state law 12,684 prohibits asbestos use, contaminated products from other states are still available. The objective of the meeting was to raise awareness of the public health hazard posed by asbestos and consider means by which workers and communities might be better protected from toxic exposures. Officials representing the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed, President Eliezer João de Souza and advisor Fernanda Giannasi, addressed the meeting. See: Encontro regional combate o Amianto [Regional meeting against asbestos].

May 18, 2017

India’s Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave died in Delhi today (May 18) from lung cancer. In 2016, the Minister had expressed support for the phasing out of asbestos use in India, telling a journalist from the Times of India that: “Since the use of asbestos is affecting human health, its use should gradually be minimised and eventually end. As far as I know, its use is declining. But it must end” (see: Will look for alternatives to carcinogenic asbestos: Environment Minister). India remains the world’s biggest asbestos importer and toxic exposures are routine occurrences for millions of workers and members of the public. See: Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave dies of lung cancer.

May 18, 2017

Investigations by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism have revealed that the presence of asbestos-containing products in small scale premises remains a potent health hazard to workers and members of the public. A report issued on May 17, 2017 found that up to 80,000 small private buildings out of a total of 1.3 million were contaminated, with up to 30,000 having failed to take appropriate measures to neutralize the hazard as a result of which highly hazardous products such as sprayed asbestos remain in place. See: Up to 82,000 small buildings estimated to still use asbestos: gov't survey.

May 18, 2017

A commentary about asbestos in Colombia is framed within a global context that highlights efforts made to prevent toxic exposures through banning and/or regulating its use. Three hundred and twenty cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma have been diagnosed by Julio César Granada, a chest surgeon at the Santa Fe Foundation; amongst them were: a 50-year old sportsman who had helped lay asbestos on a playing field when he was a child, Ana Cecilia Niño, who had lived near an Eternit asbestos tile factory, and Rafael Alfonso Mayorga Donoso, who worked in the tile factory. See: Asbesto: una sustancia mortal mas cercana de lo que se cree [Asbestos: a deadly substance closer than thought].

May 18, 2017

A judgment handed down by Italy’s Council of State upheld local and environmental objections to the construction by the Mosole Group of asbestos landfills in northern Italy, citing EU regulations. The proposal under consideration included the transfer of 460,000 cubic meters of asbestos between two landfills, to be transported by about 45,000 trucks over a period of ten years beginning in 2018. The dumping of over 80,000 cubic meters of asbestos-containing waste in the region between 2005 and 2006, has been deemed an illegal action by the Council of State. See: Paese, stop alla discarica di Amianto [Region stops asbestos dumping].

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]

Dec 15, 2016

Civil society groups from around the world have warmly welcomed the news that the Canadian government is to outlaw the use of asbestos by 2018. The fact that Canada, one-time leader in the production of chrysotile asbestos, has taken this step is the latest victory for the global campaign to ban asbestos. This decisive action by the Canadian government is a harbinger of things to come; in the 21st century, the time is past when a dangerous and discredited technology can be allowed to endanger the lives of innocent populations. In a press release issued today calls are made for justice for the injured and definitive action to eradicate the danger posed by asbestos products within national infrastructures. [Read full article]

Dec 9, 2016

For some years, Australian campaigners have designated November as Asbestos Awareness month. This year was no exception with a slew of formal events, outreach initiatives, public meetings and information sessions held throughout the country by asbestos victims’ support groups, campaigning bodies, academics, trade unionists and others. Activities organized by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) during November are discussed in this article including the Society’s 21st ecumenical service of remembrance on November 25. The work and motivation of the ADSA is contrasted with that of asbestos industry stakeholders who held a large gathering of vested interests in Moscow on November 14. [Read full article]

Oct 31, 2016

Earlier this month (October 2016), a series of events took place in the Brazilian city of Campinas during which medical, legal, social, judicial and environmental challenges posed by the country’s continuing use of chrysotile (white) asbestos were examined by Brazilian and international experts. The fact that these events were paid for by court-awarded penalties against two asbestos manufacturing companies made the medical workshop (October 5), two-day conference: Asbestos: A Socio-Legal Approach (October 6-7) and the First National Meeting of Asbestos Victims and their Families (October 8) truly historic. [Read full article]

Oct 20, 2016

A coalition of Indian and international groups representing asbestos victims, campaigners, environmentalists and health and safety activists from Asia and Europe have today uploaded a devastating report highlighting the toxic environmental legacy left by European asbestos multinationals in rural India. “The dumping of asbestos waste” by Turner & Newall and Etex was, said Barrister Krishnendu Mukherjee, “done in the full knowledge that it would cause serious health problems to the local population. Such behaviour towards mainly poor people, without real access to legal remedies, can only be described as a corporate crime.” [Read full article]

Oct 20, 2016

The toxic legacy left in rural India by European asbestos companies including Britain’s Turner & Newall Ltd. and Belgium’s Etex continues to endanger the lives of thousands of citizens in towns such as Kymore in the state of Madhya Pradesh according to a report uploaded today by civil society groups in India and abroad. Evidence collected by a team of Canadian technical experts documented nearly 600,000 square metres of toxic waste, which would cost up to $88m to make safe. The waste, which is composed of up to 70% asbestos fibers, poses a known public health hazard about which nothing has been done by the polluting enterprises which created it. [Read full article]

Sep 19, 2016

On September 10, 2016, the world came to Casale Monferrato, a small Piemonte town which has become a symbol of the global struggle against asbestos tyranny. On a day of celebration and remembrance, the community marked a new future with the inauguration of the EterNOT park built on the former site of the notorious Eternit asbestos factory. Separated by distances great and small, campaigners for asbestos justice sent tributes to show their solidarity with their Italian allies. Opening the proceedings, Mayor Concetta Palazzetti referenced the global solidarity on display at the front of the chamber and named the associations from Latin America, Asia, Australia and Europe which had sent messages of support. [Read full article]

Sep 10, 2016

Today, the community of Casale Monferrato, for decades the symbol of the struggle for asbestos justice, will mark a landmark event with the dedication of a park built on the infamous site of the Eternit asbestos cement factory. The Eternot Park is not only a memorial to the asbestos dead but also a symbol of a future which can be free of the deadly dust. Campaigning groups from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia have sent a statement – the English version of which is text of this article – with floral tributes expressing solidarity and support for the victims, the activists and the community. (Click here for Italian version.) [Read full article]

Aug 23, 2016

This article by Canadian ban asbestos campaigner and human rights activist Kathleen Ruff puts into context the news that consultations are ongoing regarding a change in Canada’s asbestos policy which could soon make the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products illegal. According to an adviser to Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott, members of the Trudeau Government are working on drafting a new asbestos policy for Canada, which, it is expected, will, after more than a 100 years, end the country’s love affair with asbestos. Ruff hopes that measures to ban asbestos and protect Canadians from hazardous exposures will be announced when Parliament reconvenes in September 2016. [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