News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Victory over Asbestos!
Mar 22, 2017
In a decisive verdict handed down yesterday by a court in Rio de Janeiro, the Eternit company – Brazil’s biggest asbestos manufacturer – was ordered to eliminate asbestos use within the next 18 months. The decision is a result of proceedings by the Public Ministry of Labor which had filed a civil action over hazardous workplace exposures to asbestos at Eternit’s Guadalupe, Rio de Janerio plant. Not only did the court order Eternit to transition to asbestos-free technology, but it also specified that exposure levels be kept to the legal limit and that current and former employees be provided with free medical examinations. See: Eternit do Rio de Janeiro condenada a substituir o Amianto em 18 meses [Eternit in Rio de Janeiro condemned to replace asbestos in 18 months].
Call for Action
Mar 22, 2017
A letter by Jagdish Patel, National Coordinator of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India, addressed to Anil Madhav Dave, India’s Minister of Environment and Forests, has been uploaded to the internet. In this document Mr. Patel reiterates requests that “the Government, as a party to the Rotterdam Convention, … support the amendment to the Rotterdam Convention that a group of twelve African countries have submitted to the Secretariat and that will be discussed at the COP 8.” This letter is signed by groups representing Indian workers, health activists and campaigners. See: Support amendment to Rotterdam Convention for listing of chrysotile asbestos at COP 8.
Increased Compensation Payments
Mar 22, 2017
On March 20, 2017 a new formula came into effect as a result of amendments to current legislation which lowered the discount rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%. One of the results of the change made by the Ministry of Justice will be the increase of compensation payments to personal injury claimants including asbestos victims. There is no certainty that this change will be secure from attack by the insurance industry and negligent employers; the Government is consulting on this issue with vested interests such as insurers who are, no doubt, hoping the discount rate will be increased. See: New discount rate for personal injury claims announced.
Asbestos Progress Update
Mar 21, 2017
A Conduct Adjustment Agreement has been signed by the Public Labor Ministry in Rio de Janeiro with the construction materials company Casalite, based in the city of Duque de Caxias in the state of Rio de Janeiro, to cease using asbestos for the production of roofing tiles and gutters. This agreement is part of a Brazilian program – National Asbestos Banishment Program of the Public Labor Ministry – aimed at eliminating the use of asbestos in Brazil. See: MPT-RJ firma acordo com empresa para substituir o amianto de seus processos de produção [MPT-RJ signs agreement with company to replace asbestos from its production processes].
Asbestos Remediation: Update
Mar 20, 2017
According to Giorgio Demezzi, a former Mayor of Casale Monferrato, to date more than €80m has been allocated by the Italian government for asbestos remediation of the town over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, disputes are ongoing over the administrative processing and bureaucratic dispensation of remediation funds by city hall personnel. The municipality aims to make Casale Monferrato asbestos free by 2020. To that end, work is proceeding, says the current Mayor, at new construction sites. See: I conti dell’amianto in 20 anni: ecco le bonifiche. Finora trasferiti dallo Stato 80 milioni [20 years of asbestos land reclamation has, till now, cost the state 80 million].
Local Asbestos Initiative
Mar 17, 2017
In April 2017, a council in the western suburbs of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia is offering a number of free visual inspections to householders to alert them to the presence of asbestos in homes built in the Cumberland local government area before 1990. A scheme operated by the council for the free collection and disposal of up to 10 square meters of bonded asbestos sheeting from homes has proved popular with local people such as Grahame Duerden who had pieces of asbestos fiberboard to dispose of; this material is no longer accepted at the tip and the minimum charge for collection by a specialist company is A$140. See: Free asbestos pick ups.
Overseas Asbestos Crimes
Mar 16, 2017
A photo-essay depicting the industrial legacy of asbestos processing in India by a company that was part of the Belgian asbestos Eternit-Etex conglomerate has been published in Flemish. The text focuses on the situation in Kymore, a town in central India, which is littered with toxic asbestos waste and built with asbestos cement materials. Personal testimony and evidence has been amassed which document corporate responsibility for widespread environmental contamination. See: Van Kapelle tot Kymore: Etex ook verantwoordelijk voor asbestslachtoffers in India? [From Kapelle to Kymore: Is Etex also responsible for asbestos victims in India?].
Condemnation of South Africa
Mar 15, 2017
Despite the fact that South Africa banned asbestos in 2008, the government is refusing to back a move by Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia to unblock a logjam at the Rotterdam Convention which is preventing this UN agency from including white asbestos on a list of toxins subject to requirements ensuring prior informed consent of importing countries. The health experts who wrote this blog conclude that: “South Africa's foreign policy is apparently not governed by any substantive health or environmental considerations.” See: South Africa Refuses To Support Initiative To Restrict Deadly Asbestos Trade
Asbestos in Schools
Mar 15, 2017
The scandal over the UK government’s failure to protect schoolchildren and staff from dangerous asbestos exposures continues to reverberate. On March 13, 2017, the government gave a pathetic response to a question about this issue in the House of Lords, absolving itself of responsibility for the situation, the deadly reality of which was detailed in an article in the newspaper and website of Schools Week on March 11 in which MP Rachel Reeves was quoted calling the government’s failure to act on asbestos in schools “grossly negligent.” See: Dodgy asbestos surveys costing schools ‘millions’.
Systemic Failures: France
Mar 14, 2017
This article details the failure of the French authorities to address the asbestos contamination of the national infrastructure and warns of more asbestos-related deaths in the future because of the uneven protection of workers from building and other products containing asbestos which have not been removed. Several quotes from campaigners highlight the flaws in a regulatory system which fails to adequately police the asbestos removal industry, ensure accurate laboratory analyses of suspect material and diagnose patients with asbestos diseases. See: En France, il reste 20 millions de tonnes d’amiante disséminées dans les bâtiments [In France, there are 20 million tons of asbestos still in buildings].
Galicia: Asbestos Justice
Mar 14, 2017
An interview – published this month – with Ramón Tojeiro the head of AGAVIDA, a group representing asbestos victims in Galicia, north western Spain, highlighted the impact of occupational asbestos exposures amongst workers in the shipbuilding yards in Ferrol. The campaigner cited the important roles played by Galician unionist Rafael Pillado and Dr. Carlos Piñeiro in the fight to obtain recognition of the invisible epidemic and medical treatment for the injured; Tojeiro also warned of the hazard posed by asbestos within the infrastructure. See: La realidad del amianto se mantuvo oculta porque era un gran negocio [The reality of asbestos kept hidden because it was a big business].
Push to Ban Asbestos
Mar 10, 2017
Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim has submitted a draft bill (PLS 30/2017) to a committee of the Brazilian Congress delineating a road map to make the transition from a national asbestos policy based on the controlled use of asbestos to one banning mining, manufacture, import, storage and transport of asbestos fiber and products containing asbestos within a strict phased timescale. Citing the global consensus regarding the proven risks posed by asbestos exposures, the proposal will, if approved, prohibit all asbestos use, sales, marketing, storage, import and export within four years. See: Manejo do amianto pode se tornar proibido no país [Transition from asbestos management to asbestos ban].
Workplace Exposure in Australia
Mar 10, 2017
Trade union officials confirmed on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 that work at an Australian factory had been stopped for a week due to the discovery of asbestos contamination at the facility owned by the Orica company in the Kooragang Island area of New South Wales. It is alleged that prior to the shutdown, dozens of workers had been hazardously exposed to asbestos fibers. While not denying the incident took place, the company is disputing details released by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. The exposures allegedly occurred during a $67-million overhaul of the ammonia plant. See: Unions and ORCA in dispute over asbestos.
New Precedent in France
Mar 10, 2017
On March 3, 2017 France’s Council of State – the highest administrative court in the country – handed down a ground-breaking decision when it accepted that employees of the state, in this case a shipbuilding worker for the Ministry of Defence, had a right to compensation for asbestos “anxiety prejudice” after negligent workplace exposures. According to the verdict, “the decision to recognize the right to this compensation amounts to recognition of the link established between exposure to asbestos dust and reduction in life expectancy…” See: Amiante: le préjudice d’anxiété reconnu pour les ouvriers d’Etat par la redaction [Asbestos: anxiety prejudice recognized for state workers].
Asbestos in Schools
Mar 9, 2017
Regional authorities have approved proposals to remove asbestos from 38 schools in Catalonia during 2017-2018. Asbestos was banned in Spain in 2002 but remains widely present throughout the educational infrastructure. The commitment to remediation and replacement of toxic products with asbestos-free materials was brought about after pressure from the socialist party. Under the new rules, asbestos surveys will be carried out to identify contamination, a timetable will be set for removal and an implementation plan will be adopted. See: El Parlament aprueba retirar el amianto de 38 escuelas e institutos [Parliament approves proposal to remove asbestos from 38 schools].
Asbestos Cancer Mortality
Mar 6, 2017
A paper published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted an epidemic of asbestos cancer in the US Between 1999 and 2015, there were 45,221 deaths reported from mesothelioma, the signature cancer related to asbestos exposure. The annual incidence rate increased from 2,479 (1999) to 2,597 (2015). The researchers’ conclusions confirm what asbestos activists have been saying for years: “Contrary to past projections, the number of malignant mesothelioma deaths has been increasing…” despite the introduction of regulatory actions and decreasing consumption. See: Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality – United States, 1999-2015.
Asbestos Leak in Wicklow
Mar 3, 2017
A former municipal landfill is leaking hazardous waste, including fragments of asbestos, into the Irish Sea in Bray, Co. Wicklow. Amongst the waste dumped on this site are broken asbestos tiles and there are “excessive levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, potassium and manganese in the groundwater.” Local people and politicians have been calling for the municipality, the government and European authorities to make remediation of the site a priority issue. An Environmental Risk Assessment is now being considered by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Wicklow County Council and the Environmental Protection Agency. See: Asbestos and other toxic waste leaking into Irish Sea off Bray and Dublin coast.
Asbestos Lobby Machinations
Mar 3, 2017
A new article on the RightonCanada website details efforts by the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), a propaganda instrument financed by global asbestos producers, to manipulate the global consensus regarding the toxicity of all types of asbestos. The paper – Health Risk of Chrysotile Revisited – which cost the ICA $235,000, failed to disclose “the extensive, long-lasting financial ties of [the authors] Bernstein and Dunnigan to the asbestos lobby; and advanced arguments that have been “dismissed as dangerous misinformation by the world scientific community.” See: Asbestos lobby hopes to block asbestos bans with its bought science.
Asbestos Use in Dentistry
Mar 3, 2017
It has been widely acknowledged that asbestos was used in 3,000 products, ranging from building materials to consumer products. A report just uploaded to the website of the American Journal of Industrial medicine documents the occurrence of mesothelioma amongst dental technicians and professionals who used asbestos-containing dental lining tape for making crowns, bridges and other dental prosthetic devices. The paper examines six mesothelioma cases linked to exposures to this material in four dentists, one dental technician and one silversmith. See: Malignant Mesothelioma Due to Asbestos Exposure in Dental Tape.
Environmental Asbestos Threat
Mar 2, 2017
A row has broken out between Ankara city officials and professional organizations over the health hazard of demolition work at a factory believed to contain 350 tonnes of asbestos. Air monitoring conducted close to the factory in the Maltepe neighborhood of Ankara by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects found dangerously high levels of amphibole asbestos. Calls have been made for schools in the area to be closed as a preventative action. Ankara’s Mayor alleges that safety measures were implemented during the dismantling work. See: Debate over asbestos diffusion heats up in Turkish capital Ankara.
Support for Patients
Mar 2, 2017
As of April 1, 2017, Mesothelioma UK– a national resource center providing specialist information, support and care services for mesothelioma patients – will be supporting travel expenses for mesothelioma patients to obtain specialist diagnoses or treatments from medical centers outside of their local areas. Standard class travel and accommodation will be covered for up to two nights for the patient and carer as well as the cost of car parking. To apply for this assistance, claimants can contact a helpline: 0800 169 2409. See: Patient Travel Expenses Policy (2017).
Victory for Spanish Worker
Mar 2, 2017
An appeal by the Spanish asbestos company Uralita has been dismissed by the High Court of Catalonia which upheld a 2015 award to an asbestos victim of €342,142 for injuries sustained as a result of negligent workplace asbestos exposures. Uralita’s lawyers alleged that at the time of the exposures – between 1969 and 1992 – there had been no asbestos regulations in place regarding occupational exposures. The Judge rejected this argument affirming that the company was legally obliged to protect workers from all dangerous activities and substances. See: Uralita pagará a un empleado con cáncer por exposición al Amianto [Uralita to pay a worker with cancer for asbestos exposure].
Capital’s Asbestos Challenge
Feb 28, 2017
Members of Nairobi’s County Assembly (MCA) are pressing for action from City Hall to remove asbestos roofing from all residential properties. Particular mention has been made of toxic roofing on houses built in the 1950s and 1960s in the Eastlands, an area southeast of Nairobi. MCA Caroline Muga has asked questions in the assembly regarding delays in disposing of toxic roofing removed from houses in Ofafa Jericho, Bahati and Kimathi, old estates in the capital. MCA Muga said that asbestos was banned in 2006 by the government but the order was never implemented. See: Cancer Risk: City MCAs push for removal of asbestos in houses.
Calls for Asbestos Action
Feb 26, 2017
In a letter to India’s Minister of Environment Anil Madhav, who in August 2016 publicly spoke of the need to protect citizens from the risk of contracting asbestos diseases, grassroots activist Jagdish Patel from the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India urged the Minister to work with government colleagues to end toxic exposures and support efforts by the United Nations Rotterdam Convention to include chrysotile (white) asbestos on a list of substances subject to regulatory controls. The next meeting of the Rotterdam Convention will take place from April 24 to May 5, 2017. See: In 2017 at COP 8, India has another opportunity to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in PIC.
Basque Asbestos Verdict
Feb 26, 2017
For the first time, a Basque city has been condemned for toxic asbestos exposures to a municipal worker. The claimant’s verdict was handed down by a court in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Autonomous Community, against the City of Llodio. The family of municipal employee Kepa Galdos, who died in 2012 from mesothelioma, was awarded €133,806 (US$141,320) for the municipality’s failure to prevent toxic workplace exposures to asbestos. Welcoming the verdict, the Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi condemned the Mayor’s “total contempt and lack of sensitivity to the victims of asbestos.” See: Press Release by Association of Asbestos Victims of Euskadi.