News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Spain’s Asbestos Genocide

Apr 23, 2014

A new book entitled “Amianto: Un Genocidio Impune” documents the existence of a “conspiracy of silence” which prioritized asbestos profits over occupational and public health in Spain. The book’s author Francisco Baez Baquet, a former asbestos industry worker, presented the book at an event held on April 22, 2014 at the Málaga headquarters of the CGT union. A further session is planned for Seville; it will be sponsored by the School of Labor Studies and the Union Comisiones Obreras of Andalusia. The author hopes to visit other asbestos hotspots to highlight the epidemic of asbestos diseases. See: Amianto: Un Genocidio Impune [An Unpunished Genocide].
 

Maritime Asbestos Controversy

Apr 22, 2014

It has been announced that thirty workers who could have been exposed to asbestos on board the Irish ship LÉ Ciara will receive health check-ups every two years to screen for asbestos-related diseases. The civilian workers were employed by the Department of Defence to carry out a refit on the ship in March; prior to the commencement of work, no risk assessment had been carried out. The Naval Service was informed on March 28, 2014 that tests showed that chrysotile asbestos was present on this ship. The ship and her sister ship LÉ Orla are locked down at the naval dockyard at Haulbowline. See: Regular Tests for Workers over Asbestos.
 

Eternit Asbestos Criminal Speaks!

Apr 22, 2014

Breaking his long-standing silence, Stephan Schmidheiny has given an interview to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a Swiss daily newspaper known for its coverage of international and business affairs. The Swiss billionaire, who was sentenced in absentia to 18 years in jail by an Italian Appeal Court for asbestos crimes (see: Postscript to Great Asbestos Trial), regards the criminal proceedings as absurd. The Italian Supreme Court is expected to issue a final ruling later this year. Schmidheiny defended his actions claiming that in the 1970s nothing was known about the occupational risk of asbestos exposure. See: Schmidheiny attend le verdict du procès de l'amiante avec sérénit [Schmidheiny calmly awaits asbestos verdict].
 

Action to Reduce Asbestos Hazard

Apr 22, 2014

Asbestos is the single largest occupational killer in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Mortality from asbestos-related lung diseases is particularly high amongst BC construction workers. WorkSafeBC – BC’s Workers' Compensation Board, the agency tasked with promoting workplace health and safety – has launched an enforcement initiative to reduce occupational asbestos disease caused by exposure at residential demolition sites. Prevention officers will inspect single-family demolition work sites from March through December 2014 to ensure that all duty holders are complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. See: WorkSafeBC conducting asbestos enforcement blitz.
 

India’s Asbestos Trade

Apr 22, 2014

A recent snapshot of Indian asbestos shipments obtained from a commercial website is informative about some aspects of the country’s huge trade in this acknowledged carcinogen. Incomplete data for imports over two days this month showed imports of raw chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber from Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Brazil; the majority was from Russia. Asbestos exports shipped on April 10-12 were of fabricated asbestos fibers, concrete asbestos [stet] and compressed asbestos fiber jointing sheets, sent to Sudan, Yemen and Brazil. For samples of Indian asbestos-trade data, see Cybex Import Data and Cybex Export Data.
 

National Asbestos Legacy

Apr 16, 2014

The Japan Association of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Related Disease Victims and their Families has reported the deaths of people who had worked at recycling sites where asbestos-contaminated hemp bags were processed; family members of these workers and local residents have also died from exposure to the asbestos generated at this site. Ten deaths have been recorded in the city of Sakai from asbestos-related cancers. The situation at similar recycling plants in Tokyo, Fukuoka Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture remains to be clarified. See: 10 people in hemp sack recycling centers reportedly dead from asbestos-related sickness.
 

Victory for Mesothelioma Victim

Apr 15, 2014

In a landmark decision handed down on April 9 by Santiago’s 2nd District Labor Court, a plaintiff’s verdict was issued to mesothelioma victim Raul Olivares who had previously been employed by the Pizarreño company. Until then Pizarreño had never had damages awarded against it for failure to protect its workforce from the hazards of asbestos exposure. Compensation of US$100,126 was awarded; it is believed that thousands of additional asbestos cases could be brought by workers and/or members of the public. See: Pizarreño deberá indemnizar a trabajador que sufre cáncer por asbesto [Pizarreño must compensate workers suffering asbestos cancer].
 

Trouble at Eternit Asbestos Group

Apr 15, 2014

Following the untimely death of Eternit S.A.’s long-term President Elio Martins, dissension in the boardroom continues for Brazil’s biggest asbestos-cement company. Luiz Barsi, one of Eternit’s biggest shareholders, was put in charge of the company by the administration board. Since he has been in charge he has been highly critical of the former President’s policies. Barsi heads a group of investors who want to change everything including all the top managers and executives. A board meeting scheduled for April 23 could be as explosive as it is decisive. See: Racha no clube do bilhão [Cracks in the billionaire’s club].
 

Victims Call for Equal Rights!

Apr 14, 2014

Despite the widespread incidence of asbestos-related diseases in their State, West Australians have fewer rights to compensation than fellow citizens. A private members’ bill – The Asbestos Diseases Compensation Bill 2013 – tabled by Kate Doust is intended to close loopholes which prevent victims from claiming compensation for injuries. The proposed legislation would allow West Australians diagnosed with additional asbestos-related diseases the right to claim further damages as is permitted in other states; despite the fact that there are no financial ramifications for the WA government, Attorney General Michael Mischin continues to block its passage. See: Push to close WA's asbestos compensation loophole.
 

Urban Renewal: Asbestos Hazard

Apr 14, 2014

A serious public health hazard has been highlighted in an article published on April 12, 2014 which focused on the ramifications of the urban renewal project launched by the Turkish Government in 2013. Under this program, which aims to demolish more than 6 million properties by 2020, no consideration is being given to the risk to workers or members of the public of exposure to asbestos-containing building and insulation products contained within the structures earmarked for demolition. See: Kentsel dönüsümde asbestli malzeme alarmi çaliyor [The Hazard of Asbestos-containing Material during Urban Renewal].
 

Court Upholds Anxiety Claims

Apr 14, 2014

Claims for anxiety caused by occupational exposures to asbestos were validated by a ruling handed down by the Court of Cassation, France’s Supreme Court on April 2, 2014. Reversing a previous verdict which required proof of medical check-ups, the Court said that for people who had worked in high-risk establishments, as recognized by ministerial decree, psychological disorders caused by fear of asbestos illness were sufficient to warrant compensation even in the absence of any disease or symptoms. See: Amiante: reconnaissance du préjudice d’anxiété [Asbestos: Recognition of Anxiety].
 

Calls for Demolition of Homes

Apr 11, 2014

Peter Tighe, the head of of Australia's Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is calling for radical action on asbestos contaminated homes in the nation’s capital. Despite a massive effort in the 1980s to decontaminate properties in Canberra, over the past two months tests conducted have shown that asbestos contamination persists. The lack of legislation to prevent domestic asbestos exposures, as opposed to safety laws controlling workplace hazards, is another cause for concern says Tighe. See: Homes with Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation should be demolished, says safety chief.
 

Asbestos in Schools

Apr 11, 2014

Highlighting the recent publication of Asbestos in Schools: The Need for Action by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, Lord Alton asked on April 9 when the government will “publish their response to the evidence submitted to their review of policy on asbestos management in schools.” Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, replied that the outcome of the Department for Education’s review is due out by the end of June. See: Lords written answer: Schools Asbestos, April 9, 2014.
 

Asbestos Risk to Archaeologists

Apr 11, 2014

A letter published in the current issue of the Italian journal Medicina del Lavoro confirms the asbestos risk at historical sites such as the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos monastery on Cyprus where white asbestos was incorporated into religious murals to provide an attractive shine to the surface. Considering that asbestos items have been found at Neolithic and Bronze Ages sites, researchers are recommending that “a precautionary approach should be taken in all archaeological investigations regarding prehistoric and historic sites.” See: Byzantine Monks Built Walls With Asbestos, Too.
 

Massive Victory for Swiss Victims!

Apr 11, 2014

Last month, the European Court of Human Rights issued a plaintiff’s verdict in the case of Swiss asbestos victim Howald Moor, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2004; he died the following year. Swiss courts had dismissed claims for damages brought by his family on the grounds they were time-barred. The Strasbourg Court found that given the long latency period of this disease, the Swiss ten-year limitation period deprived claimants of the “chance to assert their rights before the courts.” Switzerland was ordered to pay compensation for non-pecuniary damage, costs and expenses. See: Press Release European Court of Human Rights March 11, 2014.
 

Mesothelioma Payout Increased

Mar 6, 2014

During the protracted consultation process over the UK’s Mesothelioma Bill, the original concept was shrunk from one which would establishes a fund of last resort for all sufferers of asbestos-related diseases to one which would pay a proportion of compensation to mesothelioma claimants diagnosed after a 2012 deadline. The proportion had been set at 75% of average civil damages. Today, a letter released by Tracey Crouch MP from Minister Mike Penning MP confirms that this figure has been increased to 80%. This means that successful applicants will receive an average of £123,000 before benefit recovery. See: Letter from Minister of State Mike Penning.
 

Hong Kong Asbestos Protest

Mar 6, 2014

The discovery this week that the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) had purchased the same type of trains from a Chinese manufacturer that have been found to be contaminated with asbestos in New Zealand has led to calls for immediate action. On March 5, the “No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance” held a silent protest in train stations and in train carriages to raise awareness of the potential health hazard for MTR staff as well as members of the public. A letter listing the protesters’ requests was submitted at the MTR headquarters. See: No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance Press Release.
 

No Asbestos-Cement Cartel?

Mar 6, 2014

On February 11, 2014, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) dismissed charges related to the existence of an asbestos-cement cartel operated by the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association(ACPMA) (see: CCI ruling). The watchdog said that “there is no evidence on record to suggest cartelisation by ACS manufacturers.” The CCI had been tasked with this investigation in late 2012 by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office. According to the 15-page ruling, the “the role of ACPMA is to … to promote the use of ACS and fight against anti-asbestos lobbies...” See: CCI finds no cartelisation in asbestos cement products mkt.
 

Asbestos Consumption Continues

Mar 5, 2014

A 199-page document published by the United States Geological Survey has revealed that although U.S. consumption of chrysotile asbestos dropped by 46% in 2013, it is likely that annual usage will continue at around 1,000 tonnes for the foreseeable future. The majority of the asbestos used (67%) was for the production of chloralkali; 30% was for the production of roofing materials with 3% going into unknown applications. In 2012 and 2013 worldwide mining of asbestos produced 1.97 and 1.94 million tonnes, respectively, with Russian annual output amounting to around 1 million tonnes. See: U.S. Mineral Commodity Summaries 2014.
 

Hong Kong’s New Asbestos Trains?

Mar 5, 2014

From 2008 to 2012, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) bought 22 trains from the Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., Ltd, part of the China North Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Corporation. Although the MTR stipulated that no asbestos be used, the same series of China-made vehicles imported to New Zealand was recently found to be contaminated with asbestos. The Hong Kong Workers’ Health Centre is urging that a thorough examination of the suspected trains is undertaken in order to protect the health of staff and the public. See: Asbestos scare prompts checks on China-made trains.
 

Asbestos Found in Trains

Feb 28, 2014

KiwiRail has pulled 40 freight trains off-line after asbestos was discovered in resin from one of the locomotives. The resin was present in a soundproofing compound used on the DL locomotives manufactured in China. Half of them were imported to New Zealand four years ago and the other half in 2013. In the purchase contract, KiwiRail had stipulated that the trains be produced without asbestos or other toxic materials. Following the asbestos scandal over Chinese-manufactured locomotives in Australia last year, KiwiRail company sought and was given assurances that the locomotives were asbestos-free. See: Trains pulled in asbestos shock.
 

Litigation over Asbestos in Helicopters

Feb 28, 2014

Managers at Agusta Westland, a company that manufactured helicopters from the 1990s to 2013, are being investigated by the public prosecutor’s office in Turin over charges of negligent disaster for failing to issue warnings regarding the presence of asbestos in their helicopters. Asbestos had been used in gaskets, brake pads, wheels and conduits. Although Agusta had informed government officials in 1996 about this issue, the information provided was incomplete; a comprehensive list of the contaminated material was only made available in September 2013. See: “Amianto negli elicotteri” Indagati i vertici di Agusta [“Asbestos in helicopters” Suspects at Agusta Westland].
 

British Asbestos Newsletter

Feb 25, 2014

The winter 2014 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The leading article in Issue 93, Asbestos in the UK: Then and Now quantifies the amount of asbestos used in the UK and the repercussions that consumption of this carcinogenic substance has had. The feature highlights the epidemic of asbestos-related diseases now occurring: “Annually, nearly three times as many Britons die from asbestos-related diseases as from road traffic accidents.” Other articles discuss the Mesothelioma Bill and the campaign to address the asbestos-contamination of UK schools. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 93.
 

Plans to Remove Asbestos Roofing

Feb 25, 2014

Gauteng, the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, announced plans on February 25 to get rid of all asbestos-containing roofing materials. The authorities will finance the removal and replacement work for poor people under a new multi-million rand program to eliminate the health hazard posed by exposure to asbestos. Public health activists are encouraging the government to also remove asbestos-containing gutters and downpipes, to ensure that once removed the contaminated material is properly disposed of and not resold and to mandate precautions for workers removing the contaminated material. See: Gauteng to be rid of all asbestos roofing.
 

Asbestos Ban April 4, 2014

Feb 24, 2014

It’s official! According to a letter received from the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, an asbestos ban – which is being implemented under the Air Pollution Control (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 – will take effect on April 4, 2014. The letter states that the “import, transshipment, supply and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos containing materials will be banned except goods in transit and registered proprietary Chinese medicine.” This action has resulted from a concerted campaign by grassroots ban asbestos activists in Hong Kong – congratulations to them all! See: EPD Guidelines & References – Banning Asbestos.