News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
No More Asbestos in Europe!
June 28, 2016
An EU regulation signed on June 22, 2016 finally outlawed the use of all asbestos products in Member States by setting a 1 July 2025 deadline for a ban on the sole existing exemption: chrysotile-containing diaphragms for electrolysis operations in two chlor-alkali factories; one in Sweden and one in Germany. Although EU agencies had hoped to end the derogation by 2017, economic arguments were persuasive. Nevertheless, one of the companies has already stopped importing chrysotile and strict regulations exist to ensure workplace safety. See: EU Regulation 22 June 2016 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals as regards chrysotile asbestos fibres.
Support for all Mesothelioma Victims
Jun 28, 2016
According to the Federal Office of Public Health, consultation is progressing in Switzerland over new measures to provide financial benefits and psychological support for Swiss citizens who suffer from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, including those whose exposure occurred outside the workplace. Currently, 75% of the 120 victims diagnosed every year receive compulsory accident insurance benefits; a new fund is being created to dispense financial support to those whose exposures were non-occupational. Between 2016 and 2025, the cost of the new scheme is estimated at $102 million. See: Un soutien rapide pour les victimes de l'amiante [Rapid support for asbestos victims].
Concerns over Asbestos Legacy
Jun 28, 2016
Against fears regarding potential contamination caused by the removal of asbestos waste dumped by the Ibertubo company in Toledo, questions are being asked about the danger posed by the presence of toxic products in Spain’s schools. In Spain as in the UK the authorities rely on false reassurances that asbestos in buildings is safe as long as it remains undisturbed. This is untrue in every case but even more so in buildings which are more than 40 years old and in which deteriorating asbestos-containing material is releasing deadly fibers into the air. See: Operación de retirada de amianto en Toledo: el fiasco de Ibertubo [Asbestos removal operations in Toledo: the Ibertubo fiasco].
The Price of Asbestos Exports
Jun 27, 2016
As Canada awaits moves by Prime Minister Trudeau to make good on his promise to ban asbestos, the first ever estimate of the financial impact of Canadian asbestos-related cancers suggests that the annual cost could exceed $1.7-billion with each case costing an average of $818,000 according to calculations by the Institute for Work & Health. Asbestos is the biggest cause of occupational deaths in Canada with workers’ compensation boards having recognized more than 5,700 claims since 1996. Asbestos imports and exports remain legal in Canada, formerly the world’s largest asbestos producer. See: Asbestos-related cancer costs Canadians billions.
Asbestos-free Pre-School for Sri Lanka
Jun 27, 2016
Last Wednesday, June 22, 2016, a revolutionary new “green” pre-school was officially opened at a ceremony attended by government and business officials during which the Ceylon Institute of Builders issued the building with a Green Label certification. The new building, which is located in the small town of Ahangama in Sri Lanka’s Southern Province, was constructed of locally sourced soil stabilized brick blocks; the roof is composed of zinc aluminium sheets which are “100% asbestos free.” Other environmentally sustainable measures used in the pre-school include solar power and rainwater harvesting. See: First green pre-school in Sri Lanka constructed by Holcim Lanka.
Stricter Asbestos Regulations Agreed
Jun 27, 2016
It was announced last week that an agreement had been reached by Multilit and Isdralit, asbestos-using companies in the Brazilian State of Paraná, with the Labor Court stipulating that until asbestos use is ended the companies’ premises will be subject to environmental assessments to ensure that concentrations of asbestos fibers are below 0.1 f/cm3. In addition, compulsory medical examinations will be provided for current and former asbestos-exposed employees. Failure to comply with these regulations, will incur substantial fines. See: Até banir amianto, empresas precisam passar por avaliação periódica [Until asbestos is banned, companies must undergo periodic evaluations].
Mobilization of Victims Continues
Jun 27, 2016
Japanese asbestos victims, campaigners and supporters continue to press for asbestos justice with meetings this past weekend (June 25 & 26, 2016). On Saturday, June 25, scores of delegates took part in an event in Amagasaki City to mark the 11th anniversary of the Kubota Shock, a term signifying the moment when Japan’s epidemic of asbestos disease burst into the public consciousness with news that workers and community members had contracted diseases as a result of the operations of major Japanese corporations (see: Asbestos Profile: Japan). On June 26, the annual meeting of the national network of asbestos victims and their families was held. See: Photo of meeting marking the 11th anniversary of Japan’s Kubota Shock.
French Workers Win Court Victory
Jun 25, 2016
On June 24, 2016, the Court of Appeal in Paris issued a claimants’ ruling in a case brought by 80 employees and former employees from the Bosch factory in Drancy, Seine-Saint-Denis who were seeking compensation for hazardous exposures which occurred during the manufacture of asbestos-containing brake pads. Each claimant will receive €8,000 for “prejudice of anxiety” and a further €300 under Article 700 of the code of civil procedure (for legal fees). The damages will be paid by the current owner of the company, Honeywell. See: Amiante: victoire en appel pour les Bosch de Drancy [Asbestos: Victory on appeal for Bosch workers from Drancy].
Calls for Asbestos Ban
Jun 24, 2016
An article circulated by “News-Georgia,” documented the increasing pressure from civil society campaigners in Georgia for a ban on all asbestos-containing products in order to protect public and occupational health. Despite the fact that the International Agency for Research on Cancer acknowledges that exposure to asbestos can cause cancer, popular products – such as asbestos-containing roof tiles and pipes, fireproofing, insulation and brake pads – remain on sale; moreover, the delivery of drinking water is accomplished via asbestos pipes. See: В Грузии требуют запретить ввоз асбеста, вызывающего рак [Demand for ban on carcinogenic asbestos increasing in Georgia].
Taiwan Advancing Asbestos Ban
Jun 24, 2016
This recent (Chinese) commentary discussed calls by Taiwan legislators to advance plans for a total asbestos ban. Although there had been agreement to ban asbestos by 2018, politicians believe the Environmental Protection Agency must act sooner; a timetable to achieve this goal will be announced by the end of 2016 “to safeguard people’s health.” Concern was expressed about hazardous exposures to those in the construction sector who were working with waste materials containing asbestos. See: 立委疑2018年禁用致癌物「石棉」太晚 環保署承諾提前實施 [Legislators concerned about the use of carcinogenic asbestos have called on the EPA to speed up prohibitions].
Asbestos and the Brighton Bombing
Jun 23, 2016
Following the asbestos death last year (December 2015) of a police officer who had worked at the scene of the 1984 Brighton bombing, the Sussex police issued a warning on June 22, 2016 to other emergency service personnel who may have also been present at the scene. Alerts have also been sent to Conservative party members who were at the hotel for the Conservative party conference, Brighton and Hove city council, and Sussex University hospital NHS trust, warning that staff and others present at the scene could be affected. See: Brighton 1984 bomb may have exposed rescuers to asbestos.
Huge Judicial Win for Victims
Jun 23, 2016
Ban Asbestos France and the Henri Pezerat Association have distributed a joint press release welcoming a truly outstanding judicial development in France. A ruling by the Criminal Chamber of France’s Supreme Court of Appeal earlier this month (June 7, 2016) will allow charges for workplace asbestos deaths to proceed against former asbestos manager Claude Chopin. The family of those who have died from the hazardous exposures at the Amisol asbestos textile factory in Clermont-Ferrand have been waiting for justice for over 20 years! See Press release by Ban Asbestos France and Henri Pezerat Association: French, English, Spanish.
Asbestos at Ministry of Education
Jun 23, 2016
A survey undertaken in 2014 indicated that the Lisbon headquarters of the Education Ministry was free of asbestos. Last year another audit found that there were asbestos building materials, insulation products and fiber cement panels within the premises. Although “the concentration of respirable fibers in the air of the locations analyzed were below the legal limits,” medical screenings will be provided for all employees who worked in affected areas. See: Sede do Ministério da Educação afinal tem amianto [Asbestos at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Education in Lisbon].
Quantifying the Total Compensation Bill
Jun 21, 2016
On Monday, June 20, 2016, the Court trying the asbestos case against Olivetti executives heard that compensation being sought against former Olivetti officials by individual claimants and civil parties, including the City of Ivrea and AFEVA, a victims’ group from Casale Monferrato, exceeded €6 million. During the day, legal representatives of defendant Camilla Olivetti, CEO from March 1963 to May 1964, argued that charges against their client should be dropped. See: Sei milioni di risarcimento per le vittime dell’amianto all’Olivetti [Six million compensation for asbestos victims Olivetti].
Toxic Clouds Invade Residential Areas
Jun 21, 2016
As asbestos waste removal operations begin in the Toledo neighbourhood of Ibertubo, concern over multiple failures in implementing best practice protocols for protecting occupational and public health has been expressed in a press release issued by the group: Ecologists in Action. According to Spanish regulations “working procedures must be designed so as not to produce asbestos fibers or, if that proves impossible, to avoid the release of asbestos fibers in the air.” The clouds of dust being generated indicate that this is not being accomplished on this site. See: Amianto en Toledo, apoyo a los vecinos ante el fiasco en la retirada de residuos [Asbestos in Toledo, supporting neighbors living near the waste removal fiasco].
Support for Ban Asbestos Campaign
Jun 21, 2016
On June 18, 2016, a video was uploaded to YouTube exposing the devastation being caused in Colombia by the ongoing mining and use of asbestos. The seven-minute clip highlighted the collusion between government official Germán Vargas Lleras and his brother asbestos businessmen Enrique Vargas Lleras over the State’s construction of 100,000 houses roofed with asbestos-cement building material. For years, government bodies have embraced pro-asbestos propaganda disseminated by the industry’s lobbying group Ascolfibras which states that asbestos can be used safely. See: El asesino silencioso en Colombia y el mundo [The silent murderer in Colombia and the world].
Delays Increase Victims’ Despair
Jun 20, 2016
Blaming law firms for increasing the volume of compensation claims and outdated, microfiche machinery for breaking down, H M Revenue and Customs has reacted defensively to claims that victims dying of asbestos diseases are being deprived of their human rights by delays in providing information on tax records. While information is provided to some living mesothelioma victims in 10 days, other enquiries are taking an average of 383 days to be answered. Asbestos widow Marlene Hutchinson has been told it will take 18 months to receive information regarding her late husband’s work history. See: HMRC under fire over 'crazy' compensation cases backlog.
Factions and Forces in Asbestos War
Jun 18, 2016
Brazil’s asbestos policy is on the verge of a complete reversal after commercial organizations, under pressure from actions by the Ministry of Labor, decisions by the Courts and changes in consumer demands, have “voluntarily” agreed to phase out asbestos use and implement safer technologies. The stalwart pro-asbestos faction which continues to utilize asbestos and market toxic products consists of four business groups operating eight factories; amongst these stakeholders, the Eternit Group is the largest. See: Fim do Uso do Amianto no Sector de Fibrocimento esta Proximo [End of the Use of Asbestos Cement Near].
Transition to Non-Asbestos Technology
Jun 18, 2016
On June 16, 2016, one of Brazil’s major asbestos cement conglomerates entered into an agreement with the Labor Court to eliminate asbestos-based production by the end of 2018. The company – Multilit Fiber Cement SA, which has its headquarters in the city of São José dos Pinhais in the State of Paraná – pledged to retain 70% of current jobs using the new technology. The company also agreed to pay US$ ~176,000 (Reals 600,000) compensation to the Parananese Association of Asbestos Victims in twenty instalments. See: Em acordo na Justiça do Trabalho, Multilit se compromete a banir amianto até 2018 [In agreement with the Labor Court, Multilit commits to asbestos ban by 2018].
More Asbestos Deaths to Come
Jun 18, 2016
In the aftermath of the announcement by the New Zealand Government that asbestos imports will be banned by October 1, 2016, questions are being asked about the tragic impact of the country’s complacency on asbestos. It has been estimated that between 1954 and 2011, there were more than 5,000 asbestos-related deaths. It has been predicted that the peak of the country’s asbestos epidemic would be reached between 2030 and 2040. New Zealand did not regulate asbestos use until 1978 and did not ban imports of raw asbestos until 1984, long after other developed countries did so. See: Asbestos toll will climb for decades.
Government Fails to Revive Mines
Jun 17, 2016
The Government of Zimbabwe has been trying for several years to resurrect asbestos mining operations at the derelict Shabanie and Mashaba Mines by securing US$1 billion in foreign investment from Russia or China. Today a report has been published announcing that these efforts have failed “due to unfriendly economic policies… [and] low global demand for asbestos.” The two chrysotile (white) asbestos mines closed in 2008, four years after President Mugabe’s Government seized control of them from Mutumwa Mawere. Prior to that, Zimbabwe had been an asbestos producing country for several decades. See: Zimbabwe: No Suitor for Shabanie and Mashaba Mines.
Asbestos Public Hearing in São Paulo
Jun 17, 2016
On June 9, 2016 at an asbestos hearing in São Paulo (SP) held by the Ministry of Labor, State Representative Marcos Martins, author of the 12.684 / 2007 law banning asbestos in SP, reminded delegates: “There is no safe level for the use of asbestos. Exposure to the fiber can cause cancer, pleural mesothelioma and asbestosis, among many other problems, and even lead to death. We need to increase the supervision of traders, warn of damage to health and the extent of the prohibition law regarding the marketing of the [asbestos] products.” See: Comércio de amianto em SP é alvo do Ministério Público do Trabalho [Labour Prosecutor Targets Asbestos Trade in São Paulo].
Quebec Honors Ban Asbestos Activist
Jun 16, 2016
Details of an astonishing reversal of over a century of support for the deadly asbestos industry by the Canadian Province of Quebec are included in a report just uploaded by Kathleen Ruff, a ban asbestos activist who on June 9, 2016 received a Quebec National Assembly (QNA) medal as well as a standing ovation for her work to protect occupational and public health in Quebec. The unanimous motion passed by the QNA thanked Ms. Ruff: “for her perseverance in the fight to stop the mining of asbestos in Quebec and Canada, and to prohibit its use.” See: In historic turn-around, Quebec National Assembly applauds efforts to ban asbestos.
Protests over Asbestos Schools
Jun 16, 2016
Parents’ concerns over the presence of asbestos in hundreds of schools in Andalusia have been discussed in the Andalusian Parliament this week with little effect. While parents called for comprehensive asbestos audits to be undertaken of all school buildings as a matter of top priority, politicians rejected relevant proposals according to media reports. Francisco Puche, the representative of Platform Zero Asbestos (Málaga), says that a preliminary survey undertaken indicated that 30% of schools in Málaga could contain asbestos. See: Los padres de colegios con amianto recurren a la Fiscalía de Menores [Parents of children at asbestos schools turn to the Office of Children].
Lack of Asbestos Awareness
Jun 16, 2016
A survey undertaken in 14 different Pacific island countries and territories by the Pacific Hazardous Waste Management Project (PacWaste) – a €7.85 million euro project funded by the European Union to improve regional hazardous waste management across the Pacific – revealed that 60% of people, aged under 30 years, had little or no knowledge about the asbestos health hazard. Asbestos contamination is widespread on these islands and the import of asbestos-containing building materials remains legal. To tackle these issues, PacWaste will launch an asbestos education and awareness campaign later this year. See: Survey highlights importance of asbestos awareness.