News Item Archive

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Displaying first 25 items in reverse date order (default)
 

Taxpayers’ Support for Asbestos Fund

Feb 27, 2015

The Government of New South Wales (NSW) has announced that extra funding will be provided if needed to cover a projected cash shortfall for James Hardie’s Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund Limited (AICF). An amendment to the terms of a loan facility will make a further $106 million available to the fund so that claims can be paid in one lump sum rather than in instalments. The AICF was set up in 2006 under a deal struck between James Hardie (JH) and the NSW government to compensate individuals injured by exposure to JH asbestos-containing products. See: Taxpayers to cover James Hardie asbestos shortfall.
 

Costly Chinese Exports

Feb 26, 2015

KiwiRail has put a multimillion dollar price tag on the remedial efforts imposed upon them by the supply of asbestos-containing trains from China (see: KiwiRail's $12 million asbestos bill). The discovery of sprayed asbestos on metal sheeting in the engine rooms of the freight locomotives necessitated their removal from service and decontamination work. The suppliers of the toxic trains have made a confidential and unspecified settlement with KiwiRail. Unlike other developed countries, New Zealand has no legislation banning the use of asbestos although it is understood that the contract for these vehicles stipulated they be asbestos-free (see: Trains pulled in asbestos shock).
 

Help for Asbestos Cancer Victims?

Feb 26, 2015

One quarter of the 120 Swiss citizens who develop mesothelioma every year were exposed to asbestos non-occupationally. These victims include the self-employed and people who lived near asbestos-processing factories; they are not entitled to compensation from Swiss accident insurers. The long latency period of asbestos diseases means that most asbestos personal injury claims are statute-barred. Following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, an initiative is being progressed to improve support for the injured. See: A round table is to be set up with the aim of stopping victims of asbestos falling into financial hardship when they are ineligible for insurance paid for by an employer.
 

Supreme Court Reveals “Motivation”

Feb 24, 2015

Although the Italian Supreme Court (Court of Cassation) issued its contentious ruling in the infamous Italian trial against asbestos billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny on November 19, 2014, it was only on February 23, 2015 that the full “motivation,” the legal discourse behind the decision, was released. Schmidheiny had denied failing to provide adequate safety measures at four Italian Eternit plants. The Supreme Court overturned guilty verdicts regarding the deaths of 263 Eternit workers and their relatives on the grounds that even before the trials had started, the statute of limitations on these crimes had expired. See: Prosecution urges new trial for former Eternit owner- update.
 

Asbestos Imports from China

Feb 23, 2015

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) has admitted that it is unable to “guarantee that all imported goods will be free from asbestos,” despite the fact that this substance and products containing it are illegal in Australia. The focus of an article published today in The Australian was the tidal wave of imports entering Australia from China, some of which were contaminated. Asbestos has been found in Australian purchases of Chinese plasterboard, gaskets, trains, mining equipment and cars. The ACBPS has said that it is the responsibility of importers to ensure that only asbestos-free goods enter the country. See: Made in China (with asbestos) [subscription website].
 

Telegraph’s Pro-Asbestos Policy

Feb 21, 2015

This week saw the highly publicized resignation of Peter Oborne, formerly the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator, over the newspaper’s failure to report on HSBC, a bank exposed in the Guardian and other newspapers for efforts to help clients evade taxes. Author Richard Wilson documents 42 Telegraph articles by columnist Christopher Booker downplaying the risks of asbestos and asks readers to vote in a poll asking: “Is it right for the Sunday Telegraph to mislead the British public about the health risks of asbestos?” See: Booker’s false claims (42 articles and counting) downplaying the risks of white asbestos.
 

Asbestos Criminals: Then and Now

Feb 21, 2015

During the 20th century, global asbestos markets were controlled and serviced by a handful of companies, many of which were family-owned. Amongst the asbestos dynasties were the Swiss Schmidheinys, the Belgian Cartiers, the Belgian Emsens and the British Turners. While efforts to hold individuals to account for the worldwide asbestos slaughter have been, on the whole unsuccessful, creative public relations initiatives have reinvented at least one asbestos entrepreneur as a high-profile philanthropist and environmentalist. The role of the Avina foundation in the rehabilitation of Stephen Schmidheiny is considered. See: Amianto rojo [Red Asbestos].
 

Court Recognizes Domestic Exposure

Feb 20, 2015

A Madrid Court has found asbestos producer Uralita negligent for causing the deaths of women who contracted asbestos cancer after hazardous exposure while washing their husbands’ or fathers’ contaminated clothing. The company was ordered to pay the families €700,000. Uralita disregarded legislation intended to prevent such exposure. Lawyers predict a wave of future claims for victims who did not have a working relationship with the company. See: Uralita deberá pagar 700.000 euros por la muerte de cuatro mujeres contaminadas con amianto [Uralita must pay €700,000 for the deaths of four women contaminated with asbestos].
 

Warnings over Asbestos Contamination

Feb 20, 2015

This week, the Portuguese environmental body Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza [National Association for Nature Conservation] highlighted the government’s failure to implement measures to identify asbestos contamination in the built environment and called for a national asbestos action plan. These calls were made as a three year deadline set by 2011 legislation which mandated the removal of asbestos-containing materials in public buildings, such as hospitals, schools and libraries, expired. See: Faltam medidas importantes no levantamento dos edifícios com Amianto [Important steps missed out in asbestos audits of buildings].
 

Mesothelioma in Miners

Feb 19, 2015

Twenty-one new cases of the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma have been diagnosed in a cohort of 69,000 mine workers which has been monitored since the late 1990s. A total of 101 individuals from the state’s iron mining industry have contracted this cancer. According to Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health: “The interval between exposure to the agent that causes the cancer and the time when the cancer appears can be as long as 40 or 50 years, possibly even longer. We have always expected to see additional cases as time went by, in people who were exposed many years ago. We expect to see still more cases going forward.” See: 21 new cases of mesothelioma in Iron Range miners
 

Supreme Court Asbestos Ruling

Feb 18, 2015

For the first time, on Feb 17, 2015 Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a judgment recognizing the negligence and liability of an asbestos-using company for a non-occupational asbestos-related death – that of Kojiro Yamauchi who for 20 years worked 200 meters from the Kuboto Corporation asbestos factory in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. By a unanimous decision, the five-panel Court, ordered Kubota to pay ¥31.9 million ($267,000) in damages to Mr. Yamauchi’s relatives. Both the Kobe District Court and Osaka High Court had ordered Kubota to pay damages to the Yamauchi family. See: Top court upholds Kubota’s liability in asbestos death case.
 

Mesothelioma Research Funding

Feb 18, 2015

A question (QWA HL4789) asked by Lord Alton on Feb. 9, 2015 about the level of mesothelioma grant funding by the Medical Research Council was answered on Feb 17, 2015 by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for Intellectual Property. Between 2010 and 2014, there were four successful applications which received a total of £1.727 million with the largest grant of £992,471 going to Prof P. Elliot of Imperial College. Between 2004 and 2014, there were ten unsuccessful applications. See: Parliamentary Written questions and answers.
 

Spain’s Asbestos Killing Fields

Feb 18, 2015

Lack of visibility, support and assistance for Spain’s asbestos victims are highlighted in an article which describes an ongoing epidemic of asbestos cancer in Málaga. Cases are described amongst people who were occupationally exposed to asbestos in workshops, factories and in the state railway company. To counter the difficulties in obtaining compensation from negligent corporations, calls are being made for a national asbestos victims’ fund to be set up such as the those in France and Belgium. To minimize hazardous exposures from the removal of asbestos incorporated within the European infrastructure, an EU protocol should be introduced. See: Deadly Asbestos Still Costing Lives.
 

Cancers of the Larynx and Ovary

Feb 17, 2015

A report published by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) and Department for Work and Pensions on Feb 17, 2015 has considered findings regarding the relation between asbestos exposures and the occurrence of cancers of the larynx and ovary. Unfortunately, the IIAC concluded that “evidence of a doubling of risk of laryngeal cancer associated with asbestos exposure remains inconsistent… [and did not recommend] prescription for cancer of the ovary in relation to asbestos exposure.” See: Cancers of the Larynx or Ovary and Work with Asbestos.
 

Mismanagement by Defence Department

Feb 14, 2015

A report by the Australian National Audit Office into The Management of the Disposal of Specialist Military Equipment has revealed significant failings to manage health risks associated with asbestos in the public sale or donation of aircraft, tanks and trucks. In December 2014 the Minister for Defence was advised of a proposal to “undertake a review of a number of past disposal activities to identify those items that contain hazardous substances, in particular asbestos containing material, that may give rise to potential future liabilities.” See: Management of the Disposal of Specialist Military Equipment.
 

Mesothelioma Kills Renowned Scientist

Feb 14, 2015

The Globe and Mail has published an appreciation of the life of Dr. Patricia Martens which highlighted her “passion for understanding and spreading knowledge about health research…” Dr Martens died on January 10, 2015, aged 62, from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Having received her diagnosis in 2013, she went public and joined the campaign for Canada to ban asbestos. A letter she sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper was acknowledged but not acted upon. Commenting on the death of his friend and colleague, David Henry said: “It is surely a tragic irony that someone who was such a proponent for public health would die from this illness.” See: Obituary of Researcher Patricia Martens
 

Forum Intervenes at Supreme Court

Feb 14, 2015

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) was granted permission to intervene in Coventry and Others v Lawrence and Another [2014], a case proceeding in the Supreme Court which could impact on mesothelioma cases. Commenting on the implications of this case, the Chair of the Forum said “If Claimants in mesothelioma cases are made liable for additional legal costs, such as success fees and the premiums for After The Event insurance policies, the numbers who do pursue claims for personal injury will decline dramatically.” See: Coventry and Others v Lawrence and Another [2014] UKSC 46.
 

Asbestos in Belgian Schools

Feb 12, 2015

Even before the Belgian TV channel RTBF had the opportunity to broadcast a film exposing the dangerous asbestos contamination of Belgian schools on Feb. 11, 2015, the Belgian Minister of Education at 6:43 a.m. contacted the Belgian asbestos victims’ group ABEVA to request a meeting. This was the first such action by the Minister despite repeated attempts by ABEVA to initiate a dialogue. ABEVA has long been attempting to highlight the asbestos risk to schoolchildren and has urged that the decontamination of schools be regarded as a priority; action should be taken in consultation with all stakeholders (see: ABEVA Press release).
 

National Asbestos Profile for Germany

Feb 12, 2015

The 70-page National Asbestos Profile for Germany (in English) which has just been released by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a German governmental research institution which operates under the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, explores the socio-economic consequences of asbestos use in Germany. The report estimates that between 1990 and 2012, 393,895 years of life have been lost due to asbestos-related diseases. Over the period from 1998 to 2011, there was an inexorable increase in the annual number of mesothelioma deaths from 556 (women) and 818 (men) in 1998 to 1,147 and 1,434, respectively, in 2011. See: National Asbestos Profile for Germany.
 

Parliamentary Debate on Mesothelioma

Feb 12, 2015

An adjournment debate was secured in Westminster Hall of the House of Commons yesterday by MP Steve Rotheram on the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. A number of MPs, including Kate Green, Ian Lavery, Tracey Crouch, Jim Shannon, Gregory Campbell and Andy McDonald, discussed diverse topics including whether excess sums raised by a 3% levy on insurers could be used for funding research into asbestos-related diseases. Addressing this issue, the Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper floundered in his attempt to distinguish between a “cap” and a “levy,” but agreed to look again at the available funding for research. See: Hansard Feb. 12, 2015 Debate.
 

Environmental Asbestos Hazard in US

Feb 11, 2015

Data in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, documents an elevated incidence of mesothelioma amongst women and individuals under 55-years old in Southern Nevada. The authors conclude “the presence of asbestos and other fibers in the environment of Clark and Nye Counties… suggests that some of these malignant mesotheliomas are caused by environmental exposure which can happen when human activities and natural processes… release fibers in the air.” See: Mesothelioma in Young People and Women in Southern Nevada likely the Result of Asbestos in the Environment.
 

Export of Jersey Asbestos to UK Mainland?

Feb 10 2015

Authorities on Jersey are in discussions with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regarding the export of Jersey’s asbestos waste to the UK; a decision is expected by the end of March 2015. In the meantime, the toxic debris is stockpiled in rusting shipping containers in a site at La Collette. According to Ellen Littlechild, director of operations at Jersey’s Transport and Technical Services, plans are progressing regarding the construction of a “contained cell” reception facility for asbestos waste removed from Jersey buildings. See: Asbestos in Jersey – a are you concerned?
 

Asbestos Hit to European Cancer Journal

Feb 10, 2015

A furore caused by the publication in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention of an article entitled “Role of stopping exposure and recent exposure to asbestos in the risk of mesothelioma,” by Drs. Carlo La Vecchia and Paolo Boffetta, has led to the termination of the Journal’s association with the International Association of Cancer Registries (IACR) according to a February 5, 2015 letter by IACR President Dr. Roberto Zanetti. Complaints about the non-disclosure of conflicting interests by the authors were expressed by more than 140 scientists. See: The International Association of Cancer Registries has terminated its relationship with the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
 

India and Asbestos: The Long View

Feb 9, 2015

The Dollar Business, a foreign trade magazine about India's trade policy, has just published a headline article examining the consequences of India’s position as the world’s largest market for asbestos imports. The 3-page feature includes interviews with the Executive Director of the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’ Association, the Convener of the Ban Asbestos Network of India and the Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. Highlighting the controversial nature of continuing use of an acknowledged carcinogen, the author contrasts the profitability of the asbestos sector with the health risks of exposures to Indian citizens. See: Is the Whole World Wrong?.
 

Defeat for Welsh Asbestos Bill

Feb 9, 2015

This morning, the UK Supreme Court upheld a challenge by The Association of British Insurers to the Welsh Assembly’s plans to recover from negligent employers as much as £1m/ year in medical costs for the treatment of asbestos victims. According to the Court’s press summary, “The Welsh Assembly lacks legislative competence to enact the Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill in its present form.” The Bill had been proposed by Labour AM Mick Antoniw and was passed by the National Assembly in 2013. See: Wales' bid to force employers to pay for asbestos-related healthcare is blocked by the Supreme Court.