News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
NI Award for Pleural Plaques
Jul 30, 2014
In June 2014, the Belfast High Court awarded compensation for pleural plaques (pp) to a widow whose husband was exposed to asbestos as an employee at Harland and Wolff and Royal Mail Group. This was the first NI pp claim following the passage of the Damages (Asbestos Related Conditions) Act (NI) 2011. The deceased, who died in 2013 aged 74, did not die of an asbestos-related disease. As a result of NI legislation, the NI courts – unlike those in England or Wales – regard pp as a “statutory personal injury for which damages can and should be awarded if the plaintiff proves fault against the defendant.” See: June 27, 2014 McCauley Judgment.
Criticism of Vietnam Asbestos Policy
Jul 28, 2014
Opposition to Vietnam’s continued use of asbestos, a known carcinogen, is increasing daily. An article appeared today in the online English language VietNamNet.Bridge news outlet which highlighted the fact that the asbestos policy of Vietnam, a member of the World Health Organization (WHO), contradicts WHO advice and international trends. The article cited the opinion of Dr Le Van Trinh, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Labor Safety Association who believes that “it is necessary to stop using asbestos in production and daily life as soon as possible.” See: Vietnam ignores scientists’ warnings about asbestos use.
WHO Acts over Zimbabwe Lies
Jul 28, 2014
Misinformation quoted by chrysotile asbestos stakeholders from Zimbabwe alleging that the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the “controlled use of asbestos,” included in a position paper published two months ago have led the WHO to take action, according to a letter authorized last week by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “WHO’s policy on asbestos, all forms, is unequivocal,” it stated. See: World Health Organization asks Zimbabwe to correct its misrepresentation of the WHO position on asbestos.
Verdict for Asbestos Cancer Death
Jul 25, 2014
High Court judge Mr Justice Bean has ordered the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to pay the family of Sally Knauer the sum of £650,000 for her death from mesothelioma contracted from exposure to asbestos at her workplace – Guy's Marsh Prison – between 1997 and 2007. The administrator died aged 46 in August 2009, just five months after being diagnosed with the asbestos cancer. The MoJ was sued for failing to protect Mrs. Knauer from hazardous exposure to asbestos; it admitted liability in 2013 but contested the compensation award. See: Husband of Gillingham woman killed by cancer after asbestos exposure at Guy's Marsh Prison receives £650,000.
Fiat Managers Charged over Deaths
Jul 25, 2014
The Milan Public Prosecutor has accused Paolo Cantarella and Giorgio Garuzzo, respectively, former CEO and former chairman of Fiat Auto, and four other former Alfa Romeo managers of manslaughter for the asbestos-related deaths of 15 workers caused by hazardous conditions at the Alfa Romeo factory in Arese, on the outskirts of Milan. Court proceedings will begin on November 5, 2014.See: Amianto, Cantarella e altri ex manager Alfa a processo per i 15 operai morti ad Arese [Asbestos, Cantarella and other former managers at the Alfa Romeo factory charged with the asbestos deaths of 15 workers in Arese].
Ban Asbestos Momentum Increasing
Jul 25, 2014
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health is backing plans to add asbestos to the country’s list of prohibited toxic chemicals. Asbestos is mostly used to produce asbestos-cement (AC) construction materials in Vietnam. Thirty-six AC manufacturers produce 100Mm2 of roofing sheets per year. Vietnam is one of Asia’s biggest asbestos users and the country’s asbestos industrial sector backed by foreign stakeholders is aggressively lobbying the government to allow consumption to continue even though a national program to devise asbestos-free technologies has been successful. See: Vietnam considers ban on asbestos in fibre cement boards.
Victory for Malta’s Asbestos Victims
Jul 24, 2014
In a 48-page verdict, the European Court of Human Rights has today (July 24, 2014) unanimously ruled that the Government of Malta had, between 1968 and 2003, failed to protect ship repair yard workers from exposure to asbestos in the case of Brincat and Others v. Malta. The infringements for which the government was condemned were: violating Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and violating Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention. The Maltese Government was ordered to pay compensation to the claimants. See: Brincat and Others v. Malta.
Bad Times for Asbestos Billionaire
Jul 24, 2014
This has been a bad summer for asbestos magnate Stephan Schmidheiny. A court announced he had been charged with the “voluntary [asbestos] manslaughter” of 213 Italians. Swiss companies, successors to Schmidheiney’s Eternit Asbestos Group, have lost a multimillion dollar asbestos case in the U.S. Nowadays, much of the Schmidheiny fortune is tied up with AVINA, a “philanthropic” institution engaged in whitewashing his reputation in Spain and elsewhere. See: Stephan Schmidheiny, el magnate del amianto y financiador de AVINA, ha tenido un verano aciago [The fateful summer of asbestos magnate and AVINA backer Stephan Schmidheiny].
Debunking Asbestos Defense Strategies
Jul 24, 2014
Asbestos defendants employ standard legal arguments to defeat personal injury asbestos claims. The most favoured stratagems are discussed in a two-part paper by attorney Christopher Meisenkocthen published in the journal New Solutions. The author looks at: “the supposed harmlessness of chrysotile asbestos… so-called idiopathic mesothelioma… the pernicious notions of safe exposure thresholds for asbestos and the unreliability of Tyndall lighting.” See: The Four Most Pernicious Myths in Asbestos Litigation: Part I. Safe Chrysotile and Idiopathic Mesothelioma and Part II. Safe Thresholds for Exposure and Tyndall Lighting as Junk Science.
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.