News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Appeal to President Lula!

Jan 27, 2023

Recapping the São Paulo aircraft carrier fiasco, the editorial cited below quoted a manifesto by Brazilian groups & partners which said the situation was “a cursed legacy of the Bolsonaro government.” Fears that the ship, now in the Navy’s possession, would be sunk impelled the authors to warn this would be “an environmental disaster with political repercussions and immense environmental damage due to the existence of carcinogenic asbestos, possible radioactive sources, arsenic, PCBs, heavy metals, among other harmful agents …” See: Porta-aviões brasileiro com amianto à deriva no oceano Atlântico: Mais uma herança maldita do governo Bolsonaro [Brazilian aircraft carrier with asbestos adrift in the Atlantic Ocean: Another cursed legacy of the Bolsonaro government].
 

Supreme Court Ruling for Victim

Jan 27, 2023

On January 25, 2023, it was announced that Italy’s Supreme Court had passed a historic sentence that confirmed the liability of the multinational Solvay Chemicals as per a verdict by the Florence Court of Appeal. It is the first judgment against Solvay; a worker, who contracted pleural plaques and pleural thickening from asbestos exposures at the company’s Rosignano plant, will receive ~€3,000 (US$3,260). Commenting on the case, one expert said: “This sentence is historic because Solvay has not only always denied the use of asbestos… but has continued to deny the rights of those exposed who have contracted asbestos-related diseases.” See: Danni da amianto, “sentenza storica” Cassazione condanna Solvay [Damages from asbestos “historic sentence” from Court of Cassation condemns Solvay].
 

Unwelcome Surprise from STF

Jan 27, 2023

On January 23, 2023, it was announced that Justice Alexandre de Moraes of Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) had suspended a judgment by the Superior Court of Justice, which had ordered that production at the SAMA asbestos mine be suspended; as a result of this ruling, asbestos mining will remain legal for the time being. In 2017, the STF had issued a verdict prohibiting the extraction, production, sale and use of asbestos in Brazil. Asbestos stakeholders appealed the decision, with the asbestos mining state of Goiás passing a law overruling the STF. See: Minaçu: STF autoriza a retomada da exploração de amianto no município [Minaçu: STF authorizes the resumption of asbestos exploitation in the municipality].
 

Insurers Accused of Delaying Tactics

Jan 27, 2023

The Zurich American Insurance Company has been accused of needlessly dragging out the judicial process in order to force asbestos plaintiff Ralph Hutt to settle his claim. Some weeks ago, mesothelioma sufferer Hutt was awarded $36.5 million by a Montana jury which had accepted his claim against Zurich, the current owner of the Maryland Casualty Company. The insurer had, the jury found, failed to protect miners from hazardous exposures at the vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. According to Hutt’s lawsuit against Zurich: “It is profitable for Zurich to breach its claim settlement duties and thereby increase the time over which it can generate income on money owed…” See: Lawsuit claims insurance company deliberately stalling in Libby asbestos cases.
 

Asbestos Legacy: The Facts

Jan 27, 2023

A commentary by Professor Antonio Alarcó Hernández in Spain’s Medical Gazette reviewed key aspects of the country’s asbestos legacy. Amongst the information presented was the following: between 1994 and 2008, there were 3,943 asbestos deaths in Spain; during the 20th century 2.6 million tons of asbestos were imported, with consumption highs achieved between 1960 and 1980; 75% of the asbestos went into the manufacture of fiber cement construction material. The author supported plans for the creation of a national asbestos compensation scheme and an asbestos eradication program to remove the toxic fiber and material containing it from the country’s infrastructure. See: Un peligro latente y silencioso: el amianto [A latent and silent danger: asbestos].
 

Asbestos Ruling in Amsterdam

Jan 27, 2023

A verdict handed down this week by an Amsterdam court found that the FloraHolland company had been negligent in allowing asbestos exposures to occur on multiple occasions at its various premises, including the flower market in Aalsmeer. The action was brought by a trade union on behalf of 15 current employees and the verdict means that should they or their former workmates contract an asbestos-related disease they will not need to bring a lawsuit to obtain compensation. In the judgment, the court said that although FloraHolland had known in 1990 that material containing asbestos was present in its premises, it had not issued warnings to staff until 2009. See: Top Dutch flower auction exposed employees to asbestos for years.
 

São Paulo Mystery

Jan 25, 2023

Having been refused permission to dock at various Brazilian ports after an aborted trip to Turkey for dismantling, on January 20 the Brazilian Navy took control of the hull of the redundant aircraft carrier the São Paulo following an ultimatum from the Turkish shipowners. The location of the Sao Paulo is unknown but it is believed to be proceeding away from the Brazilian coastline. It is feared by campaigners that the ship, which has become a contentious issue for the authorities, will be deliberately sunk. See: Porta-aviões ‘vagando’ no mar: entenda por que navio foi proibido de atracar no Brasil e Marinha assumiu controle [Aircraft carrier ‘wandering’ at sea: understand why the ship was banned from docking in Brazil and the why the Navy took control].
 

Supreme Court Issues Victims’ Ruling

Jan 25, 2023

Two recent decisions by the French Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) expanded the rights of the families of victims who had died from industrial diseases and/or workplace accidents to access compensation, not only for loss of earnings but also for physical and moral suffering caused by the negligent behaviour of employers. As a result, dependents will be better compensated, in particular, the surviving families of workers who had died from diseases caused by occupational asbestos exposures. See: Amiante: indemnisation des salariés victimes ou de leurs ayants droit [Asbestos: compensation for employee victims or their dependents].
 

Asbestos Hazard at the Port of Taranto

Jan 25, 2023

A ship – the Vittorio Veneto – which had been decommissioned by the Italian Navy in 2007 and abandoned at the port of Taranto in 2013 continues to pose an imminent threat to public safety due to the presence of asbestos-containing material on board. An investigating judge has ruled that even though no harmful incident has occurred, the abandonment of the ship is an environmental disaster due to: “its proximity to the city centre, exposure to bad weather, the corrosive action of sea water, the ascertained state of opening of the ventilation hatches and the massive presence of asbestos (both inside and outside the boat)…” See: Taranto, la nave Vittorio Veneto carica di amianto al porto è un rischio [Taranto, the Vittorio Veneto ship loaded with asbestos at the port is a risk].
 

A Fatal Legacy

Jan 25, 2023

Interviews with two Spanish asbestos victims were featured in the article cited below. Mesothelioma sufferer José Antonio worked in the asbestos removal industry from 1999 until 2007 using pressurized air to remove asbestos from buildings. Neither he nor his workmates knew of the dangers of the work processes they were using. Vanesa’s bricklayer father died from mesothelioma; his wife also died from this cancer, having inhaled the deadly asbestos fibers brought home on his work clothes. See: “Mis padres murieron por amianto. Fue muy duro decirle a él que ella había enfermado por limpiarle la ropa del trabajo” [“My parents died from asbestos. It was very hard to tell him that she had gotten sick from cleaning his work clothes”].
 

Fighting for Asbestos Justice

Jan 25, 2023

Former carpenter and shipyard worker, Henri Tite-Grès has been fighting on behalf of asbestos victims for decades in his capacity as a trade union representative, union secretary, head of the national office of the shipbuilding branch of the metallurgy federation and President of the Mutuelle de la Méditerranée. Working alongside French lawyers, the union progressed claims on behalf of families of asbestos victims. In 27 years, there have been 4,500 cases; 18% of the claimants are now dead. See: “L’amiante est un Hiroshima silencieux”, juge Henri Tite-Grès, qui en a fait le combat de sa vie [“Asbestos is a silent Hiroshima,” judge Henri Tite-Grès, who made it the fight of his life].
 

Cape Must Pay!

Jan 25, 2023

In a letter sent by members of a Parliamentary group, the MPs and peers called on the parent company of one of the UK’s largest asbestos conglomerates (Cape PLC) to donate the sum of £10 million towards medical research into asbestos-related diseases as restitution for negligent behaviour which had knowingly endangered the lives of workers. Documents obtained as a result of a tough legal battle contained evidence that Cape had “provided misleading reassurance about the dangers of asbestos.” According to the letter, Cape “played a major role in exposing people to the toxic substance (asbestos), meanwhile profiting at their expense.” See: MPs urge asbestos company to pay £10m to fund cancer research.
 

Corporate Profits Trump Victims’ Claims

Jan 23, 2023

Strategems used by American corporations to offload financial liabilities continue to insulate insurers and manufacturers from asbestos claims. Koch Industries, an industrial conglomerate, received almost $2.5 billion in dividend payments in 2022 from its unit Georgia-Pacific, which had dumped its asbestos liabilities into a subsidiary (Bestwell) that filed for bankruptcy in a North Carolina court just three months after it had been set up. Thousands of asbestos lawsuits had been filed against Georgia-Pacific accusing the company and its executives of concealing knowledge about the hazard posed by asbestos contained in its building products. See: Koch gets $2.5 bln in dividends from unit that offloaded asbestos liability.
 

Asbestos Legacy in NHS

Jan 23, 2023

Research published on January 19, 2023 by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) confirmed widespread asbestos contamination of National Health Service (NHS) buildings in London (451 premises) and Scotland (695 premises), with two thirds of properties affected. Information on asbestos in other NHS buildings in these areas where a Trust or Board was not the asbestos duty-holder was not available. Two thirds of the NHS buildings which were found to be contaminated were open to the public. The report was produced by the Labour Research Department. See: Asbestos still widespread among NHS trusts and boards.
 

Plan for Asbestos Eradication in Madrid

Jan 23, 2023

The removal of asbestos-cement roofing on homes in the Spanish capital will be facilitated by the allocation by the Madrid City Council of €1 million (US$ 1.1m). Residents in 21 districts in the city including those in the neighborhoods of San Pascual, Poblado Dirigido and Meseta de Orcasitas will qualify for subsidies of €4,000 to €10,000 this year to remove the toxic material. The funds will be paid once a building permit has been granted and before work on the roofing commences. See: Amianto en el tejado: la larga lucha por acabar con una convivencia tóxica [Asbestos roofing: the long struggle to end a toxic coexistence].
 

Asbestos Scandal Uncovered

Jan 23, 2023

On January 18, 2023, the Seoul Office of Education announced that it had lodged a complaint against companies which had filed erroneous reports relating to the presence of asbestos at 17 schools. The fraudulent activity had been discovered after on-site audits by the Seoul Office of Education which is now seeking to recover all monies paid to the negligent companies and to bring charges against the wrongdoers. New procedures were implemented as of January 10, 2023 to prevent a recurrence of these incidents. See: 학교 석면 검사 '부실'…서울교육청, 석면 잔해물 '허위조사' 업체 고발 [School asbestos inspection 'poor'… Seoul Office of Education files complaint against company for 'false investigation' of asbestos debris].
 

Asbestos: Public Health Hazard

Jan 23, 2023

Despite frequent complaints by residents in the Agios Nektarios district of Patra, western Greece regarding the presence in the neighborhood of an asbestos roof covering 114 homes, no action has been taken by the municipal authorities. The residents’ call for the asbestos roof of the former Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK) dwellings to be replaced by the municipality fell on deaf ears. As the OEK no longer exists and as its successor is unable to assist with this problem, campaigners are calling for the central government to take action on this public health hazard. See: ΠΑΤΡΑ: Οργή και απογοήτευση στον Άγιο Νεκτάριο – Οι κάτοικοι αφέθηκαν στο έλεος του… “καρκίνου” [PATRA: Anger and disappointment in Agios Nektarios - Residents left at the mercy of... “cancer”].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 23, 2023

According to replies received to a Freedom of Information request, asbestos-containing material is present in more than 40 primary, secondary, nursery and assisted support needs schools in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Commenting on these findings, a spokeswoman for the charity Clydebank Asbestos Group said: “Although the use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, it sadly remains a serious public health issue. Asbestos still exists within the fabric of many of our old and public buildings, such as schools and hospitals. As a result, people will continue to be exposed to asbestos and be at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.” See: Renfrewshire: Asbestos in schools is ‘ticking time-bomb’
 

Urban Renewal in Istanbul

Jan 19, 2023

The municipal administrative team were accused of failing to enforce regulations intended to prevent asbestos exposures during demolition work on old buildings in the Karanfilköy neighborhood of Beşiktaş, in Istanbul. Local residents said that despite the presence of asbestos-containing material in the buildings, no warnings had been given by the municipality and no steps had been taken to minimize the liberation of carcinogenic fibers during the building work. See: Kansere davetiye gibi yıkım pes dedirtti [Destruction, like an invitation to cancer, made one give up].
 

Asbestos Campaign: Update

Jan 19, 2023

Following a meeting in Bercy, France in December 2022, a coalition of civil society groups – including Finances Solidaires, the General Confederation of Labour, the French Democratic Confederation of Labour, the General Confederation of Labor, the French Confederation of Christian Workers, the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions, and the French Confederation of Management, General Confederation of Executives – reaffirmed their commitment to eliminating asbestos from all their sites and facilitating recognition for all those whose lives had been adversely affected by toxic workplace exposures. See: Dossier amiante: les trois priorités de l'ensemble des fédérations syndicales des Finances [Asbestos file: the three priorities of all finance union federations].
 

Asbestos Deaths in Cheltenham

Jan 19, 2023

In the second week of January, a Gloucester coroner heard evidence about the deaths of three members of a Cheltenham factory maintenance team, all of whom had died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Adjudicating the December 2, 2022 inquest into the death of Nigel Ibbotson, 61, Assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Roland Wooderson heard that in the 1980s Ibbotson had routinely been exposed to asbestos-containing material including Asbestolux sheets at various workplaces. A verdict of death by industrial disease was recorded. See: Three members of Cheltenham factory maintenance team died from asbestos-related cancer in Gloucester.
 

Asbestos Eradication in Piedmont

Jan 19, 2023

On January 16, 2023, Regional Councilor Mattteo Marnati announced that funds of €208,000 (US$226,000) had been allocated for the replacement of pipes and insulation in the heating systems of three buildings in Vercelli as part of the region’s Zero Asbestos Program. “These are,” said Marnati “small interventions because much has already been done to remove asbestos from public buildings. However, the effort of the Region and local authorities is aimed precisely at operating in a targeted and punctual way.” See: Amianto zero: dalla Regione 208mila euro per Rosa Stampa, Agrario e Provincia [Zero asbestos: 208 thousand euros from the Region for Rosa Stampa, Agrario and the Province].
 

Asbestos in Schools

Jan 16, 2023

Trade unions, working with UK scientists, announced plans to research the risk posed to teachers of working in schools containing asbestos, after new data showed an elevated mesothelioma mortality among teachers born between 1955 and 1974 that bordered “on statistical significance.” Commenting on this initiative, joint general secretary of the National Education Union Kevin Courtney said: “This research is vitally important. We believe it will establish once and for all the risk asbestos in school buildings poses to the health of teachers, support staff and children. We hope the results will convince the government of the urgent need for an independent review of current policy, which is to manage rather than remove asbestos.” See: UK unions call in cancer expert over fears of asbestos risk to female teachers.
 

Addressing Asbestos Mortality in BC

Jan 16, 2023

According to statistics released by WorkSafeBC – the occupational health and safety agency for the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) – 17 out of the 29 construction workers who died from occupational injuries in 2021 were killed by toxic workplace exposures. In BC, asbestos exposures kill more workers than any other toxic substance. In the spring of 2023, a new Asbestos Control Training program will be launched in BC by the BC Construction Safety Alliance to educate BC’s 240,000 construction workers and asbestos removal operatives. See: Environ 30 travailleurs de la construction perdent la vie au travail chaque année en C.-B. [Approximately 30 construction workers die on the job every year in B.C.].
 

Widower’s Fight for Justice

Jan 16, 2023

Although the authorities at the Pierre-Paul Riquet hospital in Toulouse acknowledged that the 2021 lung cancer death of childcare assistant Marie-Christine Anglade had been caused by exposure to asbestos in the hospital premises in which the Purpan crèche was located, they continued to dispute whether her death was “a result of her work,” as she was a childcare assistant and not a technician. Disgruntled with these unsatisfactory findings, the deceased’s husband Pascal Anglade is considering an appeal to the administrative court. See: Toulouse: L’exposition passive à l’amiante au sein d’un CHU au cœur du combat du mari d’une salariée morte d’un cancer [Toulouse: Passive exposure to asbestos in a university hospital at the heart of the fight of the husband of an employee who died of cancer].