News Item Archive
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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
Judgment in Landmark Case
Oct 1, 2014
On October 2, 2014, Honourable Mr Justice William Davis will hand down his verdict in a case of pivotal importance to UK mesothelioma victims. At stake, is the legality of the Government’s collusion with British insurers to impose legal reforms which would disadvantage mesothelioma claimants in order to minimize corporate liabilities. During legal proceedings on July 29 and 30, 2014, a Secret Heads of Agreement between the Government and the Association of British Insurers was submitted in evidence which showed, so critics alleged, that a “secret deal” had been done. See: Press Release by Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK.
Mobilization in Asbestos Heartland
Sep 30, 2014
For decades a code of silence prevented people in the asbestos company town of Kapelle-op-den-Bos from speaking out about the epidemic killing employees and local people. A manifestation of how much has changed in recent years was the public rally on Sunday, September 28 in the center of the town which was attended by over 500 people. Participating in the activities were friends and family of Willy Vanderstappen, a politician and activist who died in 2007 of asbestos cancer. During the event, a check for €1000 was presented to Eric Jonckheere, President of ABEVA (the Belgian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed), who grew up in Kapelle-op-den-Bos.
Asbestos Tax Scandal
Sep 30, 2014
It has been reported that James Hardie (JH), formerly Australia’s asbestos giant, has “over the last decade paid an average of $0 in corporate tax in Australia… on average annual profits of $204 million…” Even as JH continues to pay generous dividends to shareholders, its compensation scheme for asbestos victims is in danger of defaulting on payments due to underfunding; there is talk of a government bailout. Commenting on the situation, Senator Nick Xenophon said: “When it comes to contributing their fair share, it seems James Hardie are leaners not lifters.” See: James Hardie 'paid an average of $0' in corporate tax over past decade.
Mesothelioma Research Findings
Sep 29, 2014
Research findings presented at the conference of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Madrid have questioned the efficacy of treating patients with high-dose radiotherapy after chemotherapy and surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Prof Rolf A. Stahel, President of the European Society for Medical Oncology, reported the findings of a Swiss study which failed “to find any differences in relapse-free survival between patients treated with the additional radiotherapy, and those who were not.” Another paper discussed the possibilities of targeting a protein produced by mesothelioma cells. See: ESMO 2014 Press Release: Studies Report New Findings on Treatment Options for Mesothelioma.
New Technology Tracks Asbestos Waste
Sep 26, 2014
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New South Wales, Australia has announced the development of technology which will allow smartphones or tablet applications to track the origins of dumped asbestos waste. The app works by scanning a barcode attached to plastic-wrapped asbestos waste. The barcode contains information such as the size or weight of the material, who it has been given to, and when and where it is going to be dumped. It is expected to be made available early next year to local councils which are fighting a war against asbestos dumpers. See: Electronic tracking traces illegally dumped tyres, asbestos.
Multimillion Dollar Screw Up by EPA
Sep 26, 2014
Yesterday (September 25) a report was published which seriously criticized the (US) Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to uphold standards in its experimentation with alternative methods for dealing with asbestos contained in buildings due for demolition. Not only was the public put at risk but the data produced by the mismanaged tests was useless said the Office of the Inspector General. The controversial research program cost $3.5 million and was carried out between 1999 and 2011. A multiplicity of failings were identified in the report which concluded that the new techniques had not worked as well as traditional methods. See: Watchdog faults EPA on failed asbestos tests.
Contamination After Road Crash
Sep 25, 2014
On the morning of September 24, 2014, two trucks collided in the state of São Paulo causing traffic delays and toxic contamination after asbestos fiber had been liberated in the accident. The Fire Department cordoned off the area and took charge of overseeing decontamination work. Although asbestos is banned in the State of São Paulo (SP) the company that owns the cargo, SAMA mining (part of the Eternit group), routinely transports its asbestos on the public highways en route to SP ports. See: Carga de amianto cai em vicinal após choque entre caminhões em Olímpia [Asbestos cargo on road after truck collision].
Asbestos Prosecutions of Olivetti Execs
Sep 25, 2014
The public prosecutor has confirmed that criminal charges are being brought for the asbestos-related deaths of 20 former Olivetti employees against five former company executives who are alleged to have failed in their duty to protect the Italian workforce from the asbestos hazard. The deaths from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma occurred between 2008 and 2014 and relate to people who worked for the company in the 1970s and 1990s. See: Chiusa l'inchiesta sull'amianto all'Olivetti, tra gli indagati De Benedetti e Passera [The asbestos investigation at Olivetti, among the suspects De Benedetti and Passera].
War on Asbestos
Sep 24, 2014
The French Government has declared war on asbestos, a carcinogen pervasive throughout the built environment contaminating 3 millions homes as well as civic buildings, factories, stores, schools and hospitals. On September 23, 2014, at a Congress held by the French Association of Low Income Housing, Housing Minister Sylvia Pinel announced the allocation of €400 million (US$514m) per year for the removal of asbestos from public housing. Low interest loans of up to €10,000 per unit will be made available to organizations owning public housing for remediation work. See: Amiante et HLM: le plan a minima du gouvernement [Asbestos and Social Housing: Government Plan].
Priority Asbestos Remediation
Sep 24, 2014
The Israeli Government has allocated a sum of US$4 million (NIS15m) for the replacement of asbestos-containing roofing as part of an unprecedented five-year US$545m (NIS2 billion) socioeconomic package for the south of the country. Accepting that asbestos roofs damaged by rocket fire are a human health hazard, the Government has prioritized their removal within this plan. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, the asbestos producer will be required to pay for half of the asbestos remediation in Galilee. See: NIS45m. allocated for asbestos treatment, waste rehabilitation in the South.
Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Sep 24, 2014
An academic paper published this month by researchers in the United States considers the efficacy of traditional and novel treatments for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Although effective, some of the newer treatments have complication rates ranging from 30% to 46%. Consequently, there is growing interest in identifying molecular targets such as sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) which regulates the production of sphingosine-1-phosphate, a biologically active lipid implicated in various cancers including malignant mesothelioma” and developing targeted therapies. See: Advances in the management of peritoneal mesothelioma.
Vigil for Asbestos Sufferers
Sep 23, 2014
A vigil for justice for mesothelioma sufferers was held on the second day of the 2014 Labour Party conference (September 22). Monday lunchtime, victims, relatives and members of asbestos victims’ support groups were joined in front of the conference center by MPs including: Jim Sheridan, Kate Green, Simon Danczuk, Jonathan Reynolds, Debbie Abrahams, Graham Stringer, Jimmy Hood, Hugh Bayley, Andy Slaughter, Stephen Twigg, Russell Brown, Steve Rotheram and Bill Esterson. (see: group photo). Jim Sheridan, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group, and Kate Green, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, supported calls for a fairer regime for victims.
Awareness Campaign Wins Award
Sep 23, 2014
At a gala evening in Madrid last night (September 22), a national Australian asbestos awareness campaign won the prestigious Public Service Campaign Award of Distinction in the 2014 Global Alliance COMM PRIX Public Relations and Communication Management Awards For Excellence against stiff competition from world public relations and communication management campaigns conducted in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The creators of “Don’t Play Renovation Roulette – Asbestos Awareness Week 2012” are Clare and Alice Collins (see: photo), a mother and daughter public relations team based in Sydney, Australia. See: Media Release.
Calls for Asbestos Ban in Pakistan
Sep 20, 2014
A one-day national stakeholders conference was held in Lahore, Pakistan by the Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union and its affiliates on September 3, 2014 to progress efforts to ban asbestos. The keynote speaker was Zahoor Awan, Secretary General of the Pakistan Workers Federation. Other eminent speakers included national labor leaders, international experts and representatives of asbestos victims. BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson told delegates: “Asbestos kills, it is a danger to the workers, their families and the communities…” The delegates unanimously agreed a declaration calling for an asbestos ban in Pakistan. See: BWI supports Ban Asbestos Campaign in Pakistan.
Contamination of Irish Fleet
Sep 20, 2014
After toxic asbestos materials had been found aboard Irish naval vessels the LÉ Ciara, LÉ Orla, LÉ Aoife, LÉ Eithne and LÉ Aisling, a fleet-wide survey was ordered. Investigations began on September 1, 2014 and are expected to take some weeks. In addition, the Naval Service has trained personnel in asbestos awareness and advised on low risk remediation of asbestos-containing materials. Defence Minister Simon Coveney has pledged that “medical concerns were and will continue to be addressed and a contracted civilian medical advisor on asbestos-related illness has provided briefs to all staff.” See: Fleet-wide check under way after asbestos found on Naval ships.
Asbestos and Education: A Bad Mix!
Sep 20, 2014
The Free University of Brussels is riddled with asbestos. Last week journalists were allowed to accompany labor inspectors surveying one of its campuses, along with trade unionists and asbestos experts. Within the university as a whole, it has been estimated that there are 7,000 places where asbestos-containing products are present. The university’s budget would need to be trebled for this public health crisis to be adequately managed. Results of the survey are due out shortly. See: Amiante: l'inspection du travail en visite à l'ULB à la demande des syndicats [Asbestos: labor inspection visits ULB at the request of the unions].
Asbestos Challenges: Debate Continues
Sep 18, 2014
A September 15, 2014 article in La República, the Colombian equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, examines moves to develop asbestos markets in emerging economies; the author discusses industry techniques including the use of “mercenary” scientists to produce junk research that “proves” that white (chrysotile) asbestos is safe. In 2012 and 2013 Colombia imported 25,164 and 15,961 tons of asbestos respectively. Available figures for 2014 show a decline in asbestos import levels; this is partially explained by the restarting of asbestos mining operations in Yarumal (Antioquia), Colombia. See: Historias del asbesto, de lo económico a lo legal [Asbestos Stories, from the economic to the legal].
Asbestos in Talc Causes Mesothelioma
Sep 17, 2014
A scientific paper published in the October 2014 issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health concluded that “a specific brand of talcum powder [Cashmere Bouquet] contained identifiable asbestos fibers [anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos] with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application.” Asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the talcum powder were identified in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this product and died from mesothelioma. See: Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women.
Industry Pressure Delays Ban?
Sep 16, 2014
Despite a government pledge to ban asbestos made more than three years ago, no action has been taken. News is now circulating that the Ministry of Industry has issued a proposal to Minister Chakkamon Pasukwanit to implement a phased ban on asbestos products with the use of the first group – for wall linings, ceilings, doors and floor tiles – to be prohibited in two years while the second group – roof tiles, cement pipes, brake and clutch parts – will be banned in five years. Thai ban asbestos activists have expressed serious criticisms of this plan saying asbestos is a known killer and should be banned immediately. See: Delay in Asbestos Ban.
Calls to End EU Asbestos Derogation
Sep 16, 2014
A consultation over proposals to extend a derogation allowing the use of asbestos-containing diaphragms is attracting criticism from the European Trade Union Confederation, the Trade Union Congress, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and others. In its submission, IBAS pointed out: “In July 2014 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that asbestos exposures which took place in Malta contravened the rights of Maltese workers; in 2014, there can be no excuse to allow asbestos use to persist in Europe. Failure to end this derogation will not only lead to more avoidable disease and deaths but may well result in legal action by groups representing European stakeholders.”
Ready, Steady, Go!
Sep 15, 2014
The annual fund-raising walk of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) begins today in Pemberton, Western Australia (WA). Over the next 5 days, participants will cover the 327 kilometres to the state capital making stops along the way to raise awareness of the WA epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. On September 17 the ADSA “Rod Triplett Tribute Breakfast” will take place in Australind to spotlight the price paid by building workers, like Rod, for their exposures to asbestos. Rod died of mesothelioma in March. PLEASE SUPPORT THE ADSA – see ADSA Press Release.
Firm Guilty of Asbestos Cancer Deaths
Sep 10, 2014
An Italian steel manufacturer has been condemned in a verdict released this week in a case which found 27 former company executives guilty of failing to protect workers at a Taranto plant from the asbestos hazard. The lives of those who had died from mesothelioma could have been saved had action been taken to prevent hazardous asbestos exposures wrote Judge Simone Orazio in his 268 page judgment. Medical check-ups would have enabled earlier diagnoses of asbestos-related conditions to have been made thus allowing more effective treatment for the injured. The company’s policy of prioritizing profits had led to many deaths. See: Ilva Taranto, condanna per l’amianto [Ilva Taranto, condemned over asbestos].
Taxpayers to Fund Hardie Shortfall?
Sep 9 2014
International building conglomerate James Hardie (JH), a company which began life as an Australian asbestos manufacturer, paid a total of $500+ million in dividends in 2013 and 2014; at the same time its asbestos-related liabilities had risen by 10.4% to $1.9 billion. As a result, the JH asbestos compensation body may need to draw on a taxpayer-backed loan arrangement to pay victims’ claims. Commenting on this news, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said: “The bottom line is if James Hardie can afford $500 million to give to shareholders it can find the money to give to dying victims of their product.” See: James Hardie asbestos compensation scheme millions short after big dividends.
Fraud by U.S. Asbestos Defendant
Sep 5, 2014
On September 3, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Philadelphia appeals court ruled that the world’s biggest chemical maker BASF had engaged in “systematic fraud” to defeat thousands of personal injury lawsuits over asbestos contamination of its talc. In its decision, the Court stated that the state of New Jersey did not accept the right of litigants to engage in “fraud calculated to thwart the judicial process.” The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the families of six workers who had died from asbestos-related diseases allegedly caused by exposure to talc mined by a BASF-owned company in Vermont. See: BASF Must Face Asbestos Coverup Fraud Claims, Court Says.
Huge Victory for Asbestos Victims
Sep 3, 2014
On September 1, 2014, Minister Celso de Mello of the Federal Supreme Court rejected an injunction by Eternit, Brazil’s leading manufacturer of asbestos-cement products, which barred a $1 billion lawsuit filed by the Public Attorney’s Office of the São Paulo Labor Court on behalf of former employees at the Eternit factory in Osasco, Sao Paulo. As a result, the public prosecutor can now proceed with the compensation claims for 1,000 injured employees and the surviving families of those who have died. See: STF mantém ação de R$ 1 bi contra Eternit por expor trabalhadores a amianto [STF holds share of R$ 1 billion against Eternit for exposing workers to asbestos ].