News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)

Toxic Swiss Trams

Aug 1, 2015

On Friday (July 30) it was announced by a spokesman for Zurich Public Transport (ZPT) that during a general inspection to enhance security, asbestos had been found in the “tram 2000 series” used in the city’s transport network. The 160 contaminated vehicles, which were manufactured between 1976 and 1990, constitute 23% of ZPT’s 700 cars. Having given assurances that workers and passengers were safe, ZPT said that decontamination of the vehicles will begin by the end of the Summer; until then, the affected units will remain in service. See: Zurich: de l'amiante dans des vieux trams [Zurich: asbestos in old trams].

Industrial Asbestos Exposure 2015

Aug 1, 2015

During a routine maintenance inspection on an industrial blast furnace in the town of Florange in north-eastern France, Laurent Longuez discovered asbestos contamination. Upon identifying the presence of the hazardous material on July 20, he asked for protective equipment; his request was denied and work continued for a further two days. Finally at noon on July 22, the company – Arcelor Mittal, “the world’s leading integrated steel and mining company,” – evacuated the site and began decontamination work. See: Découverte d’amiante sur le site des hauts-fourneaux de Florange [Discovery of asbestos in the blast furnace site Florange].

National Asbestos Eradication Plan

Jul 31, 2015

As a press conference on July 30, the (Mauritius) Minister of Housing Showkutally Soodhun committed his government to a program for the removal of asbestos from the country’s housing infrastructure. Information the Minister presented quantified the hazard: of 3,113 houses in 59 locations built with asbestos, only 665 (21%) had been remediated. The Government has allocated the sum of $12.5 million for this program. Welcoming the news, opposition politicians called for a schedule for the completion of the works. See: Soodhun: Rs 443 millions pour la réhabilitation des maisons de la NHDC [Soodhun: Rs 443 million for rehabilitation of houses NHDC].

Consumers Shun China’s Exports

Jul 31, 2015

After the 2012 asbestos scandal involving Chinese cars, Australian consumers are opting for vehicles from other countries according to an article released today. Before asbestos engine components were discovered in Chinese cars exported to Australia by Great Wall Motors, more than 12,000 Chinese cars had been purchased that year. Of the 1.1 million new vehicles bought by Australians in 2014, only 4,200 were made in China. Asbestos and asbestos containing-products have been banned in Australia since 2003. See: Haval stalls as Chinese car sales evaporate in Australia.

Federal Bill Calls for Mesothelioma Register

Jul 30, 2015

On July 29, a bipartisan bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress called the “Mary Jo Lawyer-Spano Mesothelioma Patient Registry Act of 2015” which would establish the country’s first mesothelioma registry; the data collected would be of use to mesothelioma researchers and clinicians. This draft legislation is the result of lobbying efforts spearheaded by members of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation who met with their Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C. in March 2015. See: ACTION ALERT: Mesothelioma Bill in Congress for Patient Registry.

Asbestos Scandal in Welsh Schools

Jul 30, 2015

As governments in Cardiff and London argue over who is responsible for the deadly asbestos contamination of Welsh schools, children and their teachers continue to experience daily exposures to a known carcinogen. The BBC has today published an article reporting on the repercussions of these exposures and the efforts by campaigners to lobby the Welsh authorities to “take responsibility” for a hazardous situation which appears lost in a devolutionary morass. According to research by the BBC, 1,514 Welsh schools (85%) contain asbestos products. See: Take lead on asbestos in schools, Welsh government told.

Asbestos Find in Metro Cars

Jul 29, 2015

The U.S. capital’s transport agency (Metro) is tackling the fallout from the discovery of asbestos-contamination of 280 passenger cars. The hazard is cited in a Metro tender document dated July 23, 2015 which calls for quotes for the removal of “asbestos from 1000 series railcars.” The asbestos is at the front of each of the cars in “the heater box behind the evaporator.” Railway personnel, union officials and passengers in Washington D.C. are anxious about potential exposures to the asbestos in these 40-year old vehicles. See: Hundreds of Metro Cars Contain Asbestos, Documents Show.

Victims’ Verdict on Asbestos Anxiety!

Jul 29, 2015

On July 28, a French industrial tribunal ordered the Alstom company to pay 54 former factory workers the sum of €5,000 each plus €500 in litigation costs for negligently exposing them to asbestos as a result of which they are suffering from a fear of developing serious diseases. In 2000, a former manager of the plant was also fined by a criminal court for exposing employees to asbestos. It is believed that from the 1970s until it closed in 2006, thousands of people had been employed at the factory. See: Amiante: Alstom condamné à verser 5 000 euros à 54 ex-salariés [Asbestos: Alstom ordered to pay 5,000 euros to 54 former employees].

Scottish Court Upholds Victim’s Rights

Jul 29, 2015

On July 24, Lord Uist of the Court of Sessions issued judgment in a case brought by David Boyd against three defendants over personal injuries sustained as a result of occupational asbestos exposure. After reaching an extra judicial settlement which allowed Mr. Boyd to return to court should he contract diffuse pleural thickening, lung cancer or mesothelioma, one of the defendants sought the right to demand proof of liability should that occur. The judge ruled that an offer by a defendant to settle a case by way of a payment of provisional damages carried with it an admission of liability. See: Judgment in David Boyd v Gates Ltd., Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd, National Grid Gas PLC.

Contamination at EC Headquarters

Jul 28, 2015

Since July 27, entry to another part of the European Commission’s (EC) Jean Monet Building in Luxembourg has been barred due to an alert issued after a July 16 report confirmed the presence of asbestos in the data center. High levels of fibre were found in two of the 25 samples taken from the center. Plans were already underway to relocate the 1,600 workers from this building to alternative premises due to the asbestos hazard. The Jean Monet Building 2, the new EC headquarters in Luxembourg, is scheduled for completion in 2020. See: Le datacenter du JMO est aussi infesté d’amiante [The JMO data center is also infested with asbestos].

Monument to Osasco’s Asbestos Victims!

Jul 27, 2015

Eliezer John de Souza and Amauri Lima representing the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) met with Osasco Councilman Aluisio Pinheiro to lobby the municipal authorities for support in constructing a memorial to the town’s asbestos victims, many of whom were employed in Osasco by the Lonaflex company to produce brake pads and by Eternit S.A. to manufacture asbestos-cement building products at the largest such plant in Latin Ameria. Speaking to the press, Councilman Pinheiro welcomed the proposal, saying he felt that Mayor Jorge Lapas would embrace this idea. See: Vitímas do Amianto pedem ajuda a vereador [Asbestos Victims Asking for Political Support].

University Accused of Whitewash

Jul 25, 2015

The publication in Montreal of a contentious report entitled “Lessons from the Quebec Asbestos Industry: Can there be meaningful dialogue and consensus when facts come up against feelings?” by Concordia University has led to calls from eleven doctors and scientists (see: letter to Concordia President Alan Shephard) for the document’s retraction because of “gross inaccuracies and bias and because it promotes the global asbestos trade, which the medical and scientific community have condemned as morally indefensible.” See: Concordia défend l’amiante [Concordia defends asbestos].

Victims Slam Court Decision!

Jul 25, 2015

Asbestos victims reacted angrily after a Turin Court deferred judgment in a case against billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny (see: Italian Asbestos Verdict Due on Friday!) A bereaved husband from Casale Monferrato criticized this “farce” as a delaying tactic while Bruno Pesce, from an asbestos victims’ group, said “If the Constitutional Court were to agree with the defense, it would be incomprehensible that one can cancel a murder trial because there has already been a trial for [environmental] disaster.” See: Le dossier de Schmidheiny renvoyé à la Cour constitutionnelle [Schmidheiny Case Sent Back to Constitutional Court].

Asbestos Imports Still Banned

Jul 25, 2015

At a press conference on July 24, the Minister of Health of Mauritius Anil Gayan gave assurances that there were no plans to allow the import of asbestos products into the country despite a recent decision by the Ministry of Commerce to allow the import of asbestos goods to recommence. That decision had led to a protest in front of the Ministry of Commerce headquarters in Port Louis, the capital of the country, last month by members of a labor confederation. According to news reports, the import of asbestos-containing products had been banned since 1999. See: Anil Gayan – “Aucune possibilité d’importer de l’amiante” [Anil Gayan: “No option to import asbestos”].

Supreme Court Win for Victims!

Jul 24, 2015

UK asbestos victims have welcomed the majority decision of July 22, 2015 of the Supreme Court in the case of Coventry and Others v Lawrence and Another regarding the recovery of litigation costs such as success fees and after-the-event insurance premiums. The Court agreed that provisions of the Access of Justice Act 1999 did not constitute a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and highlighted the flaws in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) which curtailed access to justice.” See: Supreme Court finds conditional fee agreements in line with human rights treaty.

Cancer Elevated in Shipbreaking Workers

Jul 21, 2015

Research amongst a cohort of 4,427 asbestos-exposed former shipbreaking workers from Taiwan has documented an elevated incidence of overall cancer, oesophagus cancer, liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer, trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer. The researchers stated that “overall cancer, esophagus cancer, and trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer were seen in a dose-dependent relationship with asbestos exposure” and urged that a surveillance program be set up to monitor the health of asbestos-exposed workers to enable early detection and treatment to take place. See: Cancer Attributable to Asbestos Exposure in Shipbreaking Workers: A Matched-Cohort Study.

Municipal Asbestos Program

Jul 21, 2015

An update provided by the Mayor of the Italian town of Casale Monferrato, who is also the chair of the town’s Asbestos Strategy Committee, confirmed that progress was made at discussions on July 17 with local and regional stakeholders. Hearings regarding the draft asbestos remediation program, approved in June 2015 by the regional council, will take place in September. There are three main focus areas of the program: asbestos monitoring and mapping; disposal of contaminated material; and health surveillance and treatment. See: Comitato Strategico Amianto: ecco come è andata [Update from Asbestos Strategy Committee].

British Asbestos Newsletter

Jul 20, 2015

The spring 2015 issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter is now available online. The leading article in issue 97, “Parliament’s Asbestos Strategy: Small Carrots, Big Sticks,” considers recent government actions on asbestos which supported and attacked the rights of people suffering from asbestos diseases. The second article “Zurich Insurance Plc UK Branch v International Energy Group Limited” is an analysis by specialist barrister David Allan of a May 2015 Supreme Court decision with implications for mesothelioma claimants. Included in the news round-up is information about legal, legislative, bureaucratic and epidemiological developments. See: British Asbestos Newsletter, Issue 97.

Unions Call for Justice

Jul 20, 2015

At a meeting in the Northern French commune of Isbergues, the CFDT union (Confédération française démocratique du travail [French Democratic Confederation of Work]) highlighted the desperate struggle by local asbestos victims to obtain recognition and compensation for occupational illnesses in a region which has a high asbestos mortality rate due to its industrial legacy. The union spokesman described the “grotesque” iniquity whereby two different courts can come to opposing decisions on similar asbestos cases. See: Amiante à Isbergues: Vivre de son travail, pas en mourir! [Absestos in Isbergues: Work to Live, Not to Die].

Jail for Asbestos Crimes!

Jul 16, 2015

On July 15, 2015, eleven former Pirelli executives were given prison sentence of up to seven years and eight months for asbestos cancer deaths of twenty workers who had been employed at the company’s plants in the 1970s and 1980s. The defendants were convicted of manslaughter for failing to protect the workers from the asbestos hazard. The court ordered that a provisional settlement of €520,000 be paid prior to a separate civil trial taking place to decide on the amount of damages due to the bereaved. See: Eleven ex-Pirelli managers convicted over asbestos deaths.

Review of “Asbestos Pilgrims”

Jul 15, 2015

Amongst the legacies left by the shipbuilding history of Ferrol, a town in the Spanish Province of Galicia, is a high incidence of asbestos mortality. A new book entitled “Peregrinos del amianto” contrasts the impact of asbestos on the community via interviews with the injured with the callous behaviour of employers and government agencies. The pioneering work by the Asociación Galega de Víctimas do Amianto [the Galega Association of Asbestos Victims), trade unions and the media in uncovering what is described as Spain’s biggest occupational health scandal is highlighted. See: Sobre "Peregrinos del amianto" de Rober Amado [Book Review: Asbestos Pilgrims by Rober Amado].

Federal Support for Decontamination

Jul 15, 2015

Casale Monferrato, formerly at the center of the Italy’s asbestos-cement industry, has welcomed the transfer to provincial authorities of €25 million for an asbestos decontamination program. On July 20, a new stage in the reclamation processs begins when applications will be accepted for assistance with asbestos removal costs. In addition to these grants, low interest loans have been been negotioated with credit institutions and banks to enable citizens to remediate properties and businesses. See: Bonifica amianto: i primi 25 milioni di euro sono stati trasferiti alla Regione Piemonte [Asbestos decontamination: first 25 million euros transferred to the Region of Piemonte].

New Mesothelioma Treatment?

Jul 14, 2015

A July 12 news broadcast on Australian TV reported on a new protocol for mesothelioma patients which has had remarkable results. In an interview on the breakfast program, medical oncologist Dr. Steven Kao from New South Wales described the system for delivering genetic material to mesothelioma patients used during phase 1 clinical trials. Footage was shown of Bradley Selmon, a patient who had taken part in this trial, whose condition has improved dramatically as a result of this treatment. After eight treatments in eight weeks X-rays revealed that Mr Selmon's tumours were now almost invisible. See: July 12, 2015, Today Show, Channel 9, Australia.

Calls to Compensate Canadian Victims

Jul 13, 2015

In the aftermath of a momentous revision of Canada’s asbestos policy, calls are being made for the governments in Ottawa and Quebec to set up a fund to compensate those who have been injured in the production and processing of Canadian chrysotile (white) asbestos. At the moment, injured workers can face a gruelling battle to obtain recognition and compensation for their diseases and others affected by environmental exposures receive neither. Should such a fund not materialize, activists and lawyers may follow through on plans to launch an asbestos class action. See: Volte-face [About turn].

Support for Brazilian Asbestos Ban!

Jul 13, 2015

According to an item dated July 10 on Santa Catarina’s Public Ministry of Work website, federal as well as state officials and agencies maintain support for the adoption of a Brazilian asbestos ban in order to protect citizens from harmful exposures. Recently, Attorney-General of Labor Luis Camargo, Santa Catarina’s Public Prosecutor Marcia Kamei López Aliaga and others took part in discussions with Manoel Dias, Minister of Labour and Employment, to progress measures to protect workers from the asbestos hazard. The Ministry of Labor favors an asbestos ban. See: PGT reforça importância do combate ao Amianto [PGT reinforces the importance of the fight against asbestos].