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)
Calls for Thai Government Action
Jul 22, 2014
A letter faxed on July 21, 2014 to the Thai authorities by representatives of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is today (July 22) featured in an online article on a Thai website. In the run-up to a crucial meeting in August 2014, the letter, which was translated into Thai (see: English version of letter), urges the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order General Prayut Chanocha to support the April 2011 decision by the Thai Government to ban the import of asbestos on the grounds of public health – to avoid a tsunami of avoidable and deadly disease. See: International Calls for Thai asbestos ban.
Asbestosis in Maharashtra
Jul 22, 2014
A scandal is unfolding in the Indian State of Maharashtra involving personnel from an asbestos company, private doctors, factory inspectors and state authorities. For 15 years, 34-year old Yogesh Sawant had worked with asbestos in the Ashadeep Frictions Ltd. factory. When he fell ill, he was examined by company doctors who assured him that he was fine. At the end of 2013, he was seen by experts from the Union Ministry of Labour. He and co-worker Manoj Saroj were confirmed to be suffering from asbestosis; they are the first individuals with this condition to be recognized in the State. See: They lied to me for 15 years of my life, says asbestosis-afflicted labourer.
Asbestos Legacy in Basque Region
Jul 22, 2014
Basque courts are issuing increasing numbers of victims’ judgments in asbestos cases; more than 208 cases of asbestos death have been recognized in the Basque region. The highest court fine awarded was €410,150 (US$550,000) for the family of a construction worker who died in 2012 from mesothelioma contracted from occupational asbestos exposure. Having highlighted the role higher awards have on improving occupational health and safety, asbestos victims’ groups are calling for the establishment of a compensation fund to speed-up payments to the injured. See: Las sanciones por amianto se disparan en el País Vasco [Penalties for asbestos soar in the Basque Country].
National Disaster, Personal Tragedy
Jul 21, 2014
The core of this July 20th feature in a major Canadian newspaper is the tragic case of mesothelioma victim Dr. Patricia Martens, a senior research scientist at the Manitoba Faculty of Medicine, who was routinely exposed to asbestos as a student. According to Canadian experts, the hazards of accidental exposures to asbestos remain in a national infrastructure riddled with asbestos. While government agencies say that the dangers can be safely managed, trade unionists disagree: “All you have to do is knock a chair into the wall if it’s got asbestos, even though it’s intact [and] it’s never been disturbed … now it’s been disturbed. That’s all it takes.” See: The case against asbestos.
Asbestos Stops New Road
Jul 21, 2014
The discovery by university geologists of naturally occurring asbestos at a site earmarked for development has postponed work on a $490m highway bypass in Boulder City, Colorado. Construction scheduled to begin in Spring 2014 was delayed to allow for asbestos testing and analysis; results are expected in August 2014. In the absence of federal regulations for dealing with naturally occurring asbestos, states are expected to devise rules based on Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. Nevada does not have any such regulations. See: Asbestos proves to be a microscopic road block near Boulder City.
Asbestos Health Warnings!
Jul 21, 2014
A seminar entitled “How Asbestos Affects Health” took place in Hanoi on July 17, 2014; the event was organized by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the World Health Organization (WHO). Having detailed the health consequences of human asbestos exposures, the Vietnamese guidelines to protect occupational health were explained by Ministry of Health officials. Despite WHO advice that the best way to prevent asbestos-related diseases was a total ban on its use, since 2000 Vietnam has imported, on average, 6,000 tons of asbestos per year, most of which is incorporated into asbestos-cement products. See: Asbestos may cause harmful health: WHO.
Companies Dispute U.S. Verdict
Jul 18, 2014
Two Swiss companies, which have inherited the asbestos liabilities of Stephan Schmidheiny’s Eternit Asbestos Group, are disputing a $90.5m judgment handed down by a U.S. Court. Anova Holding AG and Becon AG have told journalists that the Swiss legal system will not uphold this judgment as neither company has traded in the U.S. and as such did not mount a defense against the charges brought in the New Jersey Court on behalf of 11 bereaved families. See: Schmidheiny, 90 milioni alle vittime [Schmidheiny, $90 million to victims].
Government Mesothelioma Report
Jul 18, 2014
The Justice Committee will publish its report on Mesothelioma Claims (HC 308) on Friday August 1, 2014. On May 13, 2014 evidence was taken at a Parliamentary hearing, during which three victims’ and three insurers’ representatives spoke (see: British Asbestos Newsletter Issue 94). Following that session, a letter from the Association of British Insurers surfaced which seemed to substantiate claims made by asbestos victims of secret negotiations between Ministers and insurers to cap asbestos liabilities. See: The Justice Committee publishes its report Mesothelioma claims on Friday 1 August 2014.
Tories Savage Victims to Protect Donors
Jul 15, 2014
A cartoon featured in an article published on July 13th depicts fat cat Tory donors side-by-side with David Cameron as a wizened mesothelioma victim fights for breath. This image is an accurate representation of the unholy alliance substantiated by a private document sent in error to the the Commons Justice Committee by the Association of British Insurers. It revealed the existence of an understanding reached by Ministers with insurers – some of whom bankroll the Tory Party – to shortchange mesothelioma victims in what MP Andy McDonald categorized as a “dodgy deal”. See: David Cameron has insured one final insult for workers dying because of their job.
Support for Asbestos Agency
Jul 13, 2014
Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, established on July 1, 2013, could be shut down as a result of budget cuts imposed by the Abbott Government. On July 14, Australia’s Parliamentary Group on Asbestos-Related Diseases (PGARD) hosted a Parliamentary event in support of the Agency. Peter Tighe the Agency’s Chief Executive Officer and mesothelioma sufferer Lou Williams spoke at the session hosted by MP Russell Broadbent and Senator Lisa Singh MP, co-chairs of PGARD, a body set up “to enable Parliamentarians to come together to raise awareness of, and to stop the burden of, asbestos related disease.”
Death of Courageous Union Leader
Jul 10, 2014
Fernando Soto, a Spanish political and trade union leader who was imprisoned under the Franco dictatorship for his union activities, died on July 9, 2014 from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer. Mr. Soto was a metallurgist who had worked with asbestos in the aircraft manufacturing industry. He also worked for a short time at the notorious asbestos-cement factory in Seville belonging to the Uralita Company. Mr. Soto was a Member of Parliament and Senator and was awarded the Medal of Andalusia in 1998 for his union career. See: Fallece el sindicalista Fernando Soto Martín a los 75 años [Unionist Fernando Soto Martin Dies at 75].
Another Victory for Brazilian Victims
Jul 10, 2014
For the second time in less than a month, a lawsuit brought by a Brazilian asbestos victim has succeeded against a major asbestos conglomerate: Brasilit. Last week, a former worker from a Brasilit asbestos-cement factory in Sao Caetano do Sul was awarded the sum of US$200,000 which included punitive damages for pleural plaques contracted after occupational exposure to chrysotile asbestos. See: VITÓRIA A&R: Brasilit é condenada a pagar indenização de R$ 200 mil a vítima de amianto crisotila [Victory A&R: Brasilit condemned to compensate asbestos victim].
Asbestos Dumping in French Forest
Jul 10, 2014
In the Mormal forest in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, asbestos-cement debris is being dumped on a regular basis. Although landfills exist which can safely accept the hazardous material, the high cost of legal disposal deters compliance with regulations which specify strict procedures for disposal of toxic waste. Specialized companies authorized to deal with the removal and disposal of asbestos debris exist, but they are expensive and far from this area. See: Locquignol: les dépôts sauvages d’amiante en forêt, une fatalité? [Locquignol: deadly asbestos deposits in forest].
Asbestos-free Products Sold in Russia
Jul 9, 2014
Russia has for some years been the world’s largest supplier of asbestos fiber with an annual production figure of around 1m tonnes. The Russian asbestos industry is powerful and well-connected so it is reassuring to know that despite the industry’s best efforts asbestos-free products are being made in Russia. The link below is to an article which cites the landmark Italian case against asbestos criminal Stephan Schmidheiny and the fact that the WHO and IARC declare asbestos to be a human carcinogen. The text highlights the dangers of asbestos and supports the use of safer asbestos-free alternatives. See: Осторожно асбест! [Caution – Asbestos!].
European Commission Quits HQ
Jul 9, 2014
At a meeting in Brussels on July 8, 2014 work progressed on plans to relocate European Commission personnel currently working in the asbestos-contaminated Jean-Monet building in Luxembourg. Officials pledged to follow the precautionary principle to prevent health repercussions to building users: “even though asbestos does not pose an immediate danger, this is an untenable situation,” said a Commission spokesman. A working group was constituted and as from today (July 9) will be exploring all options to relocate all staff from the Jean Monet building by the end of the year. See: Luxembourg: amiante dans le bâtiment Jean-Monnet [Luxembourg: asbestos in the Jean Monnet Building].
British Asbestos Newsletter
Jul 8, 2014
The spring issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The leading article in Issue 94, The Westminster Parliament and the Asbestos Tragedy, is an insightful analysis of the troubled asbestos history of the British Parliament. This feature presents a detailed report of the first evidence session held by the Justice Committee on mesothelioma claims on May 13, 2014. Other articles in this issue of the newsletter looked at: the issue of Asbestos in Schools, the establishment of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Tissue Bank and recent developments such as the resurrection of the HSE Hidden Killer Campaign. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 94.
Environmental Compensation Tops $100m
Jul 7, 2014
According to an article in the Japanese press on July 6, 2014, the Kubota Corporation has now paid out a total of $100+ million to 265 claimants with asbestos-related diseases who were environmentally exposed to asbestos liberated by processing operations at the company’s Kanzaki plant. These payments were made following a 2006 agreement negotiated by the company and local victims and relatives from the community. Japan, a major and long-standing asbestos consumer, did not implement a comprehensive ban on the use of all asbestos-containing products until 2012.
Toxic Building to be Evacuated
Jul 6, 2014
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has ordered the evacuation of the Jean Monnet building in Kirchberg, southern Luxembourg after asbestos contamination was discovered. Asbestos was identified in false ceilings, fire doors and floor tiles. Sixteen hundred people work at these premises, which are leased to the European Commission. Three cases of asbestos-related disease have been diagnosed amongst people who worked there. A European Commission spokesman responsible for these cases says: “We are doing our best to make sure that these people are receiving good medical care.” See: Asbestos scare - Jean Monnet building should be evacuated, says Bettel.
Asbestos Cancer in Colombia
Jul 6, 2014
Asbestos cancer is one of the many types of occupational diseases that are on the rise in Colombia. Victor Manuel worked as an operator in an asbestos factory for five years in the mid-1980s. The fibers he inhaled during that time resulted in him contracting malignant mesothelioma. He was diagnosed in 2010 at the age of 52; he was dead within a year. This was one of the first cases of occupational cancer to be recognized by the Ministry of Health. See: Las enfermedades laborales, un dolor de cabeza para los trabajadores [Occupational disease, a headache for workers].
Judgment against Eternit Companies
Jul 4, 2014
On July 2, 2014 a Superior Court Judge in New Jersey issued a claimants’ verdict ordering two Swiss companies, which did not contest the court proceedings, to pay $90.5m for the pain and suffering of 11 families who lost loved ones to asbestos cancer. The deceased had worked at the Johns Manville (JM) asbestos factory in Manville, NJ. The payouts, relating to the supply of asbestos to JM from the 1950s to the 1980s, are to be made by Anova Holding AG and Becon AG; these companies are successor companies to the Eternit group which was, for decades, a leading player in the mining and processing of asbestos. See: $90.5 million awarded to 11 Manville families who lost members to asbestos-related cancer.
Experts Call for Asbestos Ban
Jul 4, 2014
At a meeting organized by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations in Hanoi last week, experts called for asbestos to be banned due to the human health hazard posed by asbestos-containing products. Research by the Ministry of Health documented the deadly risk not only to workers but also to people living near asbestos processing facilities or under asbestos roofs. Replacing asbestos with safer products is possible as well as advisable said Dr Le Van Trinh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Labour Safety Science and Technology Association. See: Asbestos use in construction a labour hazard: experts.
Landmark Asbestos Ruling in Brazil
Jul 4, 2014
Imbralit, a company which manufactures asbestos-cement tiles in Criciúma, a city in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, has been ordered by Judge Zelaide de Souza Philippi of the Labor Court to pay US$1,000,000 for negligently exposing hundreds of workers to asbestos. Inspections by factory inspectors documented multiple infringements of workplace regulations as a result of which the health of workers was endangered. This verdict is, says labor lawyer Luciano Lima Leiva, a ground-breaking precedent which can be used to punish other law breakers in the construction and manufacturing sectors. See: IMBRALIT é condenada [Imbralit is convicted].
CEO Accused of Wilful Murder
Jul 2, 2014
Public Prosecutors in Turin have charged Stephan Schmidheiny, the former owner-CEO of the Swiss Eternit Asbestos Group, with the wilful murder of 213 people who worked for Eternit or lived in Casale Monferrato, the town where the company’s asbestos-cement factory was located. The cases in this action – known as Eternit bis – relate to exposures after 1976; the deaths took place between 1989 and 2013. Schmidheiny had previously been convicted of wilful environmental disaster for other asbestos-related deaths. See: L’ex ad di Eternit accusato di “omicidio volontario” [Former CEO at Eternit accused of “intentional homicide”].
Mesothelioma Deaths Increasing
Jul 2, 2014
Data released today (July 2) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirms what asbestos victims’ advocates know very well: the number of people dying from mesothelioma in the UK is rising. In 2012, 2,535 people died from mesothelioma, an 11% increase in one year. Reacting to this news, HSE Chair Judith Hackett said: “The high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year.” See: New figures show all time low in fatal injuries to workers.
Charges Dropped in Asbestos Case
Jun 30, 2014
On June 27, 2014, the asbestos indictment against Martine Aubry, former French government Minister and now Mayor of Lille, was annulled in Paris by the Court of Appeal. The indictments of seven other government officials, scientists and industrialists involved in the Permanent Committee on Asbestos were also dropped. The accused had been charged with homicide and unintentional injuries for their role in the country’s asbestos epidemic. An appeal to the Supreme Court is being launched by the French victims’ group, ANDEVA. See: Amiante: la mise en examen de Martine Aubry a été annulée [Asbestos: the indictment of Martine Aubry has been cancelled].