News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Fernanda Giannasi Honored in Brasilia

Aug 15, 2014

On Monday, August 11, 2014, ban asbestos activist Fernanda Giannasi was awarded Brazil’s highest honor – the Order of Judicial Merit for Labor – at a gala ceremony in Brasilia (see: Picture of ceremony). Having received the commendation, Ms. Giannasi explained that it was: “recognition of a struggle that is not only mine, but all asbestos victims and their families. This shows the concern of the Brazilian judiciary with the exploitation of this deadly fiber which caused a health catastrophe of the century.” See: Top Brazilian Award for Fernenda Giannasi and also Fernanda Giannasi é condecorada com a ordem do mérito [Fernanda Giannasi is awarded the Order of Merit].
 

India’s Asbestos Time Bomb

Aug 14, 2014

As India’s asbestos sector grows rich, vested interests continue to promote the sale of a discredited technology with glitzy pseudo-scientific conferences, imported hired gun scientists and public statements proclaiming the innocuous nature of their product. Despite asbestos bans in industrialized countries and recommendations from international agencies that use should be stopped on health grounds, Indian sales of asbestos-cement construction materials are booming. Public opposition is on the rise with protesters destroying construction on a site earmarked for an asbestos factory in Bihar State. See: Asbestos still pushed in India and business is booming.
 

Lobbying for Asbestos Ban

Aug 13, 2014

On August 8, 2014, representatives of the Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) petitioned the Ministry of Industry (MOI) for an immediate ban on the use of asbestos, support for the use of safer materials, a national fund for victims and implementation of preventative measures and medical protocols. (see: T-BAN Statement). Commenting on the meeting, T-BAN representative Mrs. Somboon Seekamdokkae said “We asked the MOI to think about Thai people’s health and after 70 years, not to give the industry more time to kill citizens from asbestos-related diseases.” Sakda Pankla, the deputy director-general of the Department of Industrial Works, received the T-BAN delegation (see: photo of the meeting).
 

Petition For Asbestos Ban

Aug 12, 2014

On August 5, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) sent a letter to Vietnam authorities urging that action be taken to prohibit the use of asbestos in construction materials. WHO and ILO representatives highlighted the community health, economic and social security benefits of banning asbestos and urged Vietnam to develop a program to eliminate the use of asbestos. WHO and ILO offered to provide technical support for Vietnam to end asbestos-related diseases. See: WHO sends proposal to stop the use of asbestos to the Prime Minister.
 

Asia’s Asbestos Time Bomb

Aug 12, 2104

An article published today explores the disconnect between asbestos vested interests and civil society campaigners over whether or not India’s expanding asbestos sector is a good or bad thing for the country. While spokesmen for India's Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association say they are providing a vital public service to the nation, activists say that the commercial exploitation of asbestos endangers not only workers but also members of the public. The opposition by local people to the construction of an asbestos-cement factory in Bihar State and the high-profile media campaign mounted by asbestos lobbyists are discussed. See: Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor.
 

Capital’s Asbestos Pandemic

Aug 10, 2014

The use of asbestos-containing insulation in Canberra has left the capital with a deadly and costly legacy. An exposé which appeared on August 6th detailed the background to this catastrophe and highlighted the missed opportunities which could have prevented the tragedy. At the heart of this story was the commercial exploitation by Australian entrepreneur Dirk Jansen of an insulation product called Asbestosfluf which was made from amphibole asbestos. In the late 1960s, an expert warned the government that installers of this product were being “unnecessarily exposed to a harmful substance” when alternatives existed. See: Revealed: How the scandalous Mr Fluffly legacy lives on.
 

Delay in Vote on Ban

Aug 9, 2014

On August 5, 2014, a draft bill to ban asbestos was scheduled for debate at the Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly; four previous attempts had been defeated after pressure from asbestos lobbyists. The deputy-reporter, who is responsible for ascertaining the constitutionality of the bill, postponed the vote until September 2 alleging that more time was needed. Supporters of the ban, who were present at the meeting of the Committee of Justice and Constitutionality, said the delay was politically motivated; the deputy-reporter is known to be opposed to the ban. According to the ban supporters, there is overwhelming public support for unilateral action to protect citizens of the State from the asbestos hazard.
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard

Aug 8, 2014

The scandal of asbestos contamination in the Italian Province of Lecce, in the southeast of the country, has led local associations and campaigners to take direct action to protect public health. According to an environmental survey, the situation in the towns of Lecce and Salento is particularly severe “with whole areas of the city affected by the phenomenon and never reclaimed.” Requests for a detailed urban plan to raise asbestos awareness, remediate land and decontaminate affected properties have been made. See: Amianto, petizione di Adoc e Ilse al sindaco Perrone [Asbestos, ADOC and Ilse petition to Mayor Perrone].
 

Asbestos Hazard for Shipbreakers

Aug 7, 2014

Shipbreaking workers, who spend their days dismantling ships on the beaches of Chittagong, work in extremely dangerous conditions and are exposed to a multitude of dangerous substances, including asbestos. The reality as described by the workers is far from that asserted by the yard owners who maintain that the workforce has all the protection required. An article informed by the experience of the Brussels-based NGO Shipbreaking Platform describes a cut-throat industry where both ships and workers are scrapped on a daily basis. See: Visiting the Deadly Shipbreaking Yards of Bangladesh.
 

Asbestos Hazard in War Zone

Aug 6, 2014

Highlighting the latent health threat of asbestos contamination in war zones, Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz has announced plans to replace asbestos roofs in hundreds of houses on “the front line of the Gaza perimeter communities.” In one farm at Ein Hashlosha, 80 buildings have 7,000 square meters of asbestos-cement roofing; 60 sq.m. per house. While the financing of removal and replacements costs has yet to be finalized, the Minister remained “confident that the program will receive swift government support and financing from partner organizations.” See: State and local council to replace asbestos roofs in the line of fire from Gaza.
 

Asbestos Risk to Police

Aug 4, 2014

Asbestos contamination at the Valmontorio shooting range in Rome where police personnel have trained has been revealed. More than 3,500 members of staff have used this facility for up to a week at a time, not to mention individuals who worked at the site. Training and use of this building have now been suspended as officials work on plans to monitor the health of those who have been exposed. According to official documents, the presence of asbestos was discovered here two years ago. See: Roma – Poligono di tiro all’amianto 3.500 vigili urbani a rischio [Rome – Asbestos at shooting range; 3,500 policemen at risk].
 

Risk to Construction Workers

Aug 4, 2014

Despite the existence of asbestos bans in the Middle East, construction expert Charles Faulkner has concerns about the use of asbestos-containing building products in power stations, office blocks, residential accommodation and schools. He says that prohibitions are “not an effective guarantee that Asbestos won’t make its way into a new construction project” due to lack of enforcement, effective penalties and awareness. Hazardous exposures resulting from unsafe demolition are putting the lives of workers and members of the public at risk. Faulkner calls for a comprehensive and evolved asbestos policy to reduce the incidence of asbestos-related disease. See: Silent killer.
 

Opportunities Following Ban?

Aug 4, 2014

Anticipating that Malaysia will ban asbestos in 2015, a major manufacturer of asbestos-free cement has established a trading office in the capital. SHERA, a leading non-asbestos fiber-cement maker in Asia, produces a range of lightweight fiber cement roofs that were previously unavailable in Malaysia. The company says they are “not only easy to install, but are also durable and free from asbestos.” SHERA is a subsidiary of the Mahaphant Group, a Thailand-based manufacturer of fiber cement boards, siding and roofing. The multinational has commercial operations throughout Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. See: Asbestos-free roofs now available in Malaysia.
 

Legal Challenge to Attack on Victims

Jul 31, 2014

On July 29, 2014, UK lawyers acting on behalf of the Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum (Forum) began a High Court challenge of the decision to make mesothelioma claimants liable for legal and insurance costs incurred by lawsuits. Although a review of the effect that proposed changes would have on mesothelioma claimants had been ordered, no credible review has been undertaken. Forum Chair Tony Whitston said “sufferers and their families will accept a decision if it is based on a ‘fair and credible’ review. The government’s decision to proceed on the basis of such a flawed review will not be accepted by sufferers…” See: Lawyers take mesothelioma fight to High Court.
 

State Move to Ban Asbestos

Jul 31, 2014

The Santa Catarina Legislative Assembly will, for the fifth time, consider draft proposals to prohibit the use, handling and sale of asbestos and asbestos-containing products on August 5, 2014. Previous attempts have been defeated after pressure was exerted on politicians by asbestos lobbyists. The use of asbestos is permitted under federal law although the states of São Paulo, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais have taken unilateral action to ban asbestos. See: Deputados estaduais vão votar projeto que define pelo lucro das empresas ou a vida do trabalhador [State legislators’ vote will either support corporate profits or the workers’ lives].
 

Landmark decision by NSW Court

Jul 31, 2014

A decision on July 31, 2014 by the New South Wales’ Dust Diseases Tribunal (DDT) is the largest pay-out awarded to an asbestos victim in the DDT’s 25-year history. In 2010, Steven Dunning was diagnosed with the fatal cancer mesothelioma, having been exposed as a laborer to asbestos at the Newcastle steelworks in New South Wales operated by BHP Bilton. The judgment which awarded the 54-year old claimant $2.2m was for the first asbestos claim from this facility. Reacting to the development, the company said the verdict could be appealed. See: BHP ordered to make record $2.2m asbestos compensation payment.
 

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.