News Item Archive
To obtain a subset of news items select a country, region or year:
Alternatively, click All news items for the complete list
Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Death of Asbestos Defendant
May 21, 2013
It has been reported today that Baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, one of two former asbestos executives found guilty by a Turin court for the asbestos deaths of thousands of Italians, has died. Stephan Schmidheiny (Swiss) and Cartier de Marchienne (Belgian) were convicted of causing wilful permanent environmental disaster and failing to comply with safety rules in the 2012 landmark ruling. As a result of this development, claimants can no longer bring legal action against the Belgian or the company (Etex) he represented. An appeal court verdict, which was expected on June 3, 2013, may be delayed by a few days. See: Eternit and the Great Asbestos Trial: Appeal Proceedings.
Asbestos Giant Liable for Cleanup Costs
May 20, 2013
In April 2013, Israel's Supreme Court turned down an appeal by Eitanit Construction Products over its liability to pay 50% of the bill for asbestos decontamination work being carried out by the Environmental Protection Ministry in Northern Israel. The company had claimed that it was not the actual polluter and that Israeli law had violated its property rights and its right to equal treatment before the law by retroactively imposing a legal obligation on the company without proof of guilt and exempting other parties. The polluter pays principle was upheld. See: High Court upholds Israeli law placing onus of asbestos clean-up on company.
Tenth Anniversary of Relief Trust
May 17, 2013
In July, 2003, the Asbestos Relief Trust (ART) began distributing compensation for people suffering from asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). The Trust was established following an out-of-court settlement with former asbestos mining companies. The total compensation for 3,639 claimants who have suffered from occupational or environmental exposure exceeds US$26.6m. Tina da Cruz, who manages the ART, has said that the 10th anniversary will be marked by lectures and discussion groups in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Kuruman, the asbestos hotspots where most ART claimants live. See: Asbestos Relief Trust pays out R250m to 3 600 claimants in ten years.
Case against Former Minister Dismissed
May 17, 2013
A Paris Court today dismissed a case brought last year against Ministerial official Martine Aubrey for her failure to protect workers against the asbestos hazard in the 1980s. The "involuntary homicide and injuries" charges lodged against the former leader of the Socialist Party and a future contender for the office of Prime Minister were today dropped by a ruling of the Court of Appeal. Aubry told journalists: "The courts have recognized today that there can be no fault nor negligence attributed to me in the asbestos affair." See: Martine Aubry cleared of asbestos manslaughter charges.
Death at Asbestos Factory
May 13, 2013
Ban asbestos activist Gopal Krishna has reported the death of a 35-year-old employee at the Utkal Asbestos Limited factory in the Bhojpur District of Bihar State. Dharmendra Kumar Rawani died as a result of a workplace accident in the early hours of May 10. After a demonstration by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions, the factory was closed; calls are being made for a permanent shutdown of the facility. Elsewhere in Bihar, activists continue efforts to block construction of new asbestos factories by Utkal Asbestos and Ramco Industries, two of India's largest manufacturers of asbestos-cement building products.
Challenge to Ottawa over Asbestos Funds
May 13, 2013
Federal aid of $50 million promised for the economic diversification of Quebec's former asbestos-producing communities has not materialized. MP Jean Rousseau has openly challenged Minister Christian Paradis, who also represents a former asbestos mining constituency, over the delay, stating that benefits for the former mine workers have now run out. Despite Ottawa's reassurances, the conservatives have, Rousseau said, turned their backs on these communities. See: Fonds de 50 M$: Jean Rousseau interpelle Christian Paradis [Jean Rousseau challenges Christian Paradis over $50m].
Asbestos Contamination in Sunderland
May 13, 2013
It has been revealed that some of Wearside's most popular tourist attractions are amongst 37 properties listed on the Council's Asbestos Risk Register. These include: three museums, a market, art center, ski slope, library and tennis center. The majority of schools in Sunderland also contain asbestos. A spokesperson for the local authority told journalists that the Council's asbestos management policy complies with current legislation and that an ongoing inspection programme ensures that the asbestos risk is being carefully controlled. See: Tourist attractions, sports centres and Jacky White Market among dozens of Sunderland buildings on asbestos risk list.
Public Responsibility of Health Professionals
May 13, 2013
An editorial in the May 5, 2013 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives called on public health professionals to "make the effort to make policy content and information of public interest both accessible and usable by the general public." Author Wael K. Al-Delaimy discussed the 2012 Position Statement on Asbestos issued by the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology and highlighted the Russian-led "ethically controversial research collaboration" underway to block UN progress on designating chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the rules of the Rotterdam Convention. See: Editorial, Environmental Health Perspectives.
Judge Bertella-Geffroy barred from case
May 3, 2013
Today, the Council of State ruled that Judge Bertella-Geffroy, who pioneered the ground-breaking case against French asbestos criminals, will not be allowed to recommence her work in the healthcare division of the High Court due to the expiration of the allocated ten-year tenure period. Under a decree issued on March 27, 2013, her position as a specialist judge in charge of investigating this case had been terminated. Despite highly vocal protests by asbestos victims groups, the Court has today upheld the original ruling. See: Amiante : la juge Bertella-Geffroy ne peut pas réintégrer ses fonctions.
Asbestosis Death of Former Mine Worker
May 3, 2013
The Mine Labour Protection Campaign has reported the death on May 1, 2013 of Homa Khoma, a former asbestos mine worker from Rajasthan. Homa was examined by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) in 2007. The NIOH denied that he had asbestosis. When U.S. asbestos expert Dr. Arthur Frank reviewed this case, he confirmed on June 1, 2009 that Homa and two other workers had asbestosis. This was the first time that cases of asbestosis had been diagnosed in Rajasthan. The NIOH was forced to review its diagnosis and confirmed Homa had asbestosis in 2012. In February 2013, a compensation case was lodged.
Asbestos-Related Diseases Toolkit
May 3, 2013
On May 2, 2013, a "Toolkit for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases" was uploaded to the website of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health. This resource, which was developed with the support of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, the World Health Organization and the International Labour Office, is intended to act as a reference point for people working to eliminate asbestos-related diseases (ARDs). The authors point out that the "most effective means to prevent ARDs is to stop using asbestos." The document references a vast array of useful papers and links. See: Toolkit for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases.
Asbestos Production = Cancer
May 3, 2013
An article in the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas confirms that as asbestos production in Canada has decreased, the numbers of asbestos-related deaths have escalated due to the long latency period between exposure and disease onset. Thirty years after Canadian asbestos production peaked, a huge increase was seen in the number of fatalities from mesothelioma, a type of asbestos cancer. An interactive map on this website reveals areas with high incidences of asbestos-related deaths between 1970 and 2005; they include: Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. See: Canadian Environmental Health Atlas.
Brazil will Abstain in UN Chrysotile Vote
Apr 30, 2013
News has been released that Brazil will not support UN action to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance at next week's meeting of the Rotterdam Convention (RC). This decision was taken even though there was Ministerial support for including chrysotile on Annex III of the RC. The Ministries of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade and Mines and Energy voted to preserve the status quo so that markets for chrysotile asbestos remain unaffected. Civil society campaigners are bitterly disappointed that Brazil has, once again, acted to advance its interests despite the deadly risks posed by exposure to asbestos. See: País vai se abster em decisão sobre restrição ao amianto.
Russian Threat to Thai Ban
Apr 29, 2013
Russian strategists are using threats of unofficial economic sanctions against Thailand to press the government to backtrack on a commitment to ban asbestos made more than two years ago. An article in today's Bangkok Post documents the use of discredited asbestos industry propaganda and the slurs being made against ban asbestos campaigners who are accused of fronting for international companies interested in selling asbestos-free products. Russian official Vladimir Romano's comments promoting the continued use of Russian chrysotile state that chrysotile is cheap and ecological. The Russians are calling for bilateral talks on chrysotile. See: Russia presents case for chrysotile.
Government Agency Bans Asbestos
Apr 27, 2013
On April 26, 2013, Luis Camargo, Brazil's Attorney General of Labor Affairs, signed Ordinance 281which bans the use of asbestos by the Ministry of Labor. The timing of this action was intended to underline the significance of International Workers Memorial Day which is celebrated on April 28 in countries around the world. Other recent positive developments on asbestos in Brazil include a decision in March by the Superior Labor Court which condemned Brasilit, a major asbestos manufacturer, for its failure to provide mandated medical services to workers. See: Banido uso de amianto no Ministério Público do Trabalho.
Thai Editorial Supports Asbestos Ban
Apr 26, 2013
An editorial in yesterday's Bangkok Post condemned the Public Health Ministry's refusal "to recognise that asbestos, a known human carcinogen used in construction materials, is dangerous to health." Earlier this month, a Ministry official said that the evidence regarding the human health hazard of asbestos remains inconclusive despite the fact that the Thai Cabinet had accepted this fact more than two years ago. Increasing pressure by asbestos lobbyists is responsible for the Thai Government's continued inaction. The editorial says that the Ministry must accept "asbestos as a health hazard, which has long been acknowledged worldwide." See: Asbestos kills, that's for sure.
Asbestos Cabal Attack UN Protocol
Apr 26, 2013
The meeting of the Rotterdam Convention in May 2013 will be attended by 18 delegates representing asbestos interests from Russia (5), India (4), Ukraine (2), Vietnam (2), Kazakhstan (1), Brazil (1), Mexico (1) and Canada (2). According to an article from RightonCanada the sole purpose of their participation is to defeat "the recommendation of the Convention's expert scientific body that chrysotile asbestos… be placed on the Convention's list of hazardous substances…" The Russian delegation, which will be leading the attack, is protecting earnings from an industry responsible for 75% of all global asbestos exports. See: Asbestos lobbyists determined to sabotage UN Rotterdam Convention.
Anti-asbestos Activists Vindicated
Apr 26, 2013
Results of a fact-finding trip by government officials to a site for an asbestos-cement factory confirm that a government license to build had been obtained based on several misstatements. The main factual error was the overestimate of the distance of the industrial development from human settlement, including a school and a community hall which are within a 150 meter radius of the plant. As a result of this new information, the Bihar State Pollution Control Board has cancelled the no-objection certificate for the construction of an asbestos factory in Hajipur, Bihar by Utkal Asbestos Limited. See: Utkal asbestos plant's no-objection certificate cancelled.
Court orders asbestos remediation
Apr 24, 2013
The consequences of asbestos mining operations in the Brazilian town of Bom Jesus da Serra include unquantified amounts of environmental contamination. Although the SAMA mine is now derelict, no attempt has been made to tackle the hazardous situation which remains. A federal court has now ordered SAMA to address the serious health consequences of the contamination and take measures to minimize the health threat, such as fencing off the mining area and erecting signs to warn the public of the danger. This is a huge victory for local activists who have been lobbying for the decontamination of the site for more than a decade. See: SAMA obligated to clean-up asbestos pollution.
Victory for Asbestos Victims!
Apr 23, 2013
A French Social Security Court handed down a decision yesterday in a case brought by three asbestos-injured workers which alleged that their former employer, the airplane parts manufacturer Turbomeca, was guilty of "inexcusable fault" for exposing them to asbestos between 1952 and 1997. The families of the two claimants who have died of asbestos cancer have been awarded around $460,000; the surviving plaintiff, who has been diagnosed with pleural plaques, has been awarded $39,000. The facts of the case were presented in court on March 18; the company has a month to appeal the decision. See: Asbestos: Turbomeca must pay.
Plan to Minimize Asbestos Exposure
Apr 22, 2013
A strategic plan launched by the National Public Health Institution of Turkey will be rolled out in 437 villages and 30 cities to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard and reduce human exposures. Official sources estimate that a million people in rural areas are exposed to asbestos. The "Asbestos Control Action Plan" will include research in rural towns and at polluted industrial sites; soil samples will be collected and measured to ascertain the levels of asbestos. As well as saving life and decontaminating the environment, the Government hopes to save $200m in healthcare costs for asbestos-injured patients. See: TSHK launches plan to prevent asbestos exposure.
Scholarship for Asbestos Project
Apr 22, 2013
Professor Brett Walker was one of 175 scholars named as a winner of a 2013 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. His project, "The Slow Dying: Asbestos and the Unmaking of the Modern World," will study the toxic asbestos aftermath of terrorism, war or natural disasters in the US, Turkey, S. Africa, Russia, Canada and Japan. His investigations will cover incidents such as the attack on the World Trade Center and the Great East Japan Earthquake 2011 as well as the results of industrial decay. The transfer of hazardous asbestos technology across national borders will also be considered. See: MSU Historian wins Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct global study on asbestos poisoning.
Run-up to Charity Walk
Apr 22, 2013
The 2012 walk by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) raised $75,000 for medical research into asbestos-related diseases. This year's walk, which will take place from May 12 to 17, aims to raise even more. The ADSA team will walk 255 km from Dunsborough to Perth, Western Australia, finishing up at midday on Friday, May 17 at Solidarity Park opposite Parliament House. See: Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Walk for Research and Awareness. Donations can be made online, by cheque or by credit card:
Government Ban Asbestos Proposal
Apr 19, 2013
Senator Lorena Cuellar Cisneros yesterday tabled a proposal which called on the Mexican Government to sign ILO Convention 162 and to ban the use of all types of asbestos, including chrysotile. In the text of this draft legislation, the Senator referred to Mexican data documenting the harmful effects of asbestos exposure and the worldwide consensus regarding the deadly consequences of asbestos use. Safer alternatives to asbestos, she said, are available and should be used. The annual cost to the Mexican Government of treating people who contract asbestos-related cancer has been estimated at over $4 million. See: Mexican Senate Ban Asbestos Proposal.
Landmark developments in Saskatchewan
Apr 19, 2013
The province of Saskatchewan passed a law yesterday mandating the reporting of asbestos in premises owned by the province, including hospitals, schools and other buildings. This is the first time any Canadian province has required that information about asbestos must be disclosed in a public registry. The legislation is known as Howard's law in honor of the building inspector Howard Willems, whose fatal asbestos cancer was contracted from occupational exposure. Willems died in November 2012, aged 59; he spent the last two years of his life fighting for the introduction of mandatory asbestos audits. See: Reporting asbestos in public buildings now mandatory.