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International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

lkaz@btconnect.com

 

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Apr 16, 2021

A year after Johnson & Johnson announced plans to withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from sale in North America), British Parliamentarians condemned “the hypercritical and unjustifiable action by the American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson which in 2020 withdrew from North American markets its talc-based baby powder, found to be contaminated with asbestos fibre by Government and independent laboratories, but continued to sell that product in countries all over the world including the UK.” See: EDM (Early Day Motion) 1718: Talcum powder, asbestos contaminants and cancer.

Apr 16, 2021

A text purporting to be a news article was little more than a press release by asbestos vested interests. The “article,” which appeared on the website of Izvestia – a popular Russian newspaper – extolled the properties of chrysotile (white) asbestos roofing material, going as far as to call it “folk tiles.” Discounting all the safer alternative products as too costly for use, the author asserted that asbestos roofing “almost completely covers the needs of large groups of the population.” Exposure to chrysotile was not harmful as its fibers, the author incorrectly stated, can be dissolved by the body. See: Народный шифер: что нужно знать о самом доступном кровельном материале [Folk tiles: what you need to know about the most affordable roofing material].

Apr 16, 2021

An interview with the CEO of the former asbestos giant of Brazil – Eternit S.A. – focused on how the company, which had long bemoaned the adverse effect an asbestos ban would have on its financial prospects, has prospered in the years since it transitioned to an asbestos-free technology. By way of explanation, Eternit CEO Luis Augusto Barbosa talked about the the huge sums involved in the technology transfer, the debts incurred, the financial reorganization and divestments needed by the company to adapt to the new reality. See: Como a Eternit se reergueu ao deixar o amianto? Veja entrevista com o CEO [How did Eternit rise when it left asbestos? See interview with the CEO].

Apr 15, 2021

From April 16 until May 4, 2021, the Education Department of the South Korean Province of Gyeonggi-do will conduct an asbestos outreach project to educate teachers, school support staff, students, and parents about the nature of asbestos and the implications of asbestos material present in Gyeonggi-do’s schools. This training program has been operational since 2019. Asbestos eradication work, which began in Gyeonggi-do schools in 2016, has to date, remediated 1,614 schools. See: 발암물질 석면...경기도교육청 '석면 이해 교육'진행페이스북트위터공유하기추천댓글0원고료로 응원원고료로 응원 [Asbestos, a carcinogen...Proceed with Gyeonggi-do Office of Education ‘Asbestos Understanding Education’].

Apr 16, 2021

West Australians in a town hit by Cyclone Seroja this week have been warned about the hazard posed by asbestos debris. People in Kalbarri have been told to follow guidelines to minimize toxic exposures during clean-up operations. According to media reports, 25% of the buildings damaged by the storm contained asbestos in roofs, walls or fencing. A spokesperson from the Perth-based Asbestos Diseases Society warned: “In Western Australia, we have the most deadly [asbestos] fibre… It needs to be promptly cleaned up while it’s still damp.” See: Cyclone Seroja: Asbestos the new concern facing Kalbarri residents trying to clean up.

Apr 16, 2021

On April 13, 2021, Spain’s Congress approved draft legislation proposed by the Basque Parliament to create an autonomous administrative Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund to distribute financial support to victims of environmental as well as occupational asbestos exposures in Spain. Funding for this initiative will include contributions from: public and private employers and mutual insurance companies for accidents at work and occupational diseases. See: El Congreso da luz verde a la tramitación de la Proposición de Ley de creación de un fondo de compensación para las víctimas del amianto [Congress gives the green light to the processing of the Bill to create a compensation fund for asbestos victims].

Apr 14, 2021

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for assessing mesothelioma patients has been pioneered by researchers in Scotland who have developed a prototype AI system with the ability to recognize the tumours using an AI algorithm. This revolutionary healthcare breakthrough was achieved by the Scottish medical imaging software firm Canon Medical Research Europe in collaboration with researchers at the University of Glasgow. “Not only does it have the potential to revolutionise mesothelioma cancer care through more targeted treatment,” said one of its funders “but it may also be able to be applied to a number of other cancer types in the future.” See: AI technology used to track asbestos cancer tumours.

Apr 14, 2021

On Monday April 12, 2021, it was announced by National Deputy Néstor Rego, at a meeting in Ferrol of the Galician Association of Asbestos Victims, that the Galician National Bloc (BNG) – an alliance of left-wing nationalist parties in the autonomous Spanish community of Galicia – would support an Asbestos Victims’ Compensation Fund bill in Congress with the purpose of establishing a fund to provide compensation for victims in Galicia. See: O BNG defenderá no Congreso a concesión “obxectiva” das indemnizacións ás vítimas do amianto [The BNG will defend in Congress plans to grant compensation to asbestos victims].

Apr 14, 2021

The 2.5 million tons of asbestos waste buried at Belgian dumpsites was described as a “gigantic time bomb” in an article uploaded on April 9, 2021. Every year, 150,000 tons of this toxic waste are deposited at a landfill site in Antwerp, according to Frank Bal, head of technical and commercial services at Indaver, the company that manages the site: “About half comes from our own facilities, these are residues from our waste treatment processes. The other half comes from external customers who deliver materials considered to be toxic to us.” See: Des millions de tonnes d’amiante dorment dans les décharges belges: “Les générations à venir seront les victimes” [Millions of tons of asbestos lie dormant in Belgian landfills: “The generations to come will be the victims”].

Apr 14, 2021

On April 8, 2021, a labor tribunal in Lyon acknowledged the validity of only a third of the asbestos anxiety claims submitted in one of the biggest cases brought to an industrial tribunal in France. Whilst 474 claims from former workers at the Renault Trucks’ Vénissieux factory were accepted, 666 were rejected. These 1,200 cases were submitted to the industrial tribunal in March 2019; a verdict in another action against Renault for 200 more victims of asbestos anxiety is expected at the end of this month. See: 666 salariés déboutés au procès de l’amiante à Renault Trucks: «on n’arrive pas à comprendre» [666 employees rejected in the asbestos lawsuit at Renault Trucks: “we can't understand”].

Apr 14, 2021

Public opposition is building over plans to dismantle a toxic Brazilian warship in a shipbreaking yard in Izmir. Environmentalists and scientists are speaking out about the hazard posed to workers and local people by plans to scrap the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier at the Aliaga yard. A petition has been submitted to the Aliaga Port Authority stating: “We do not want ships to enter our territorial waters to be recycled. Ship dismantling yards should be closed.” A new platform, bringing together groups opposed to the ship’s scrapping in Turkey, has announced it would start a legal battle to ban the vessel from entering the country. See: Bir zehir gemisi daha Türkiye yolunda [Turkey to accept another poison ship].

Apr 14, 2021

On April 9, it was announced that a decision by the Osaka High Court – acknowledging the 2013 asbestos cancer (mesothelioma) death of Kazunori Shimatani had been caused by asbestos exposure during clean-up operations after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake – was being appealed by the Local Government Employees Accident Compensation Fund. Commenting on this development, a family member said: “I am angry that the agency for the relief of the victims did not take the court's decision seriously…” See: 震災がれき回収でアスベスト被害 基金が判決不服として控訴 [Asbestos damage fund appeals against judgment due to earthquake debris collection].

Apr 12, 2021

Months after blasts devastated the Port of Beirut, nothing has been done about the hazard posed by asbestos debris collected in the aftermath of the explosion. According to environment specialist Samar Khalil, asbestos-containing waste was dumped in the Achrafieh district of Beirut on a vacant lot “located a few meters from apartment buildings and a sports ground popular with the inhabitants of the district.” MP Imad Wakim deplored the informal asbestos dumpsites in the Karm Al-Zaitoun neighborhood of the city and castigated the municipal authorities, NGOs, UN agencies and the national government for failing to address the deadly situation. See (subscription site): Que faire des débris du port de Beyrouth contaminés par l’amiante? [What to do with the debris of the port of Beirut contaminated by asbestos?].

Apr 12, 2021

On March 31, 2021, asbestos anxiety claims were recognized by the Paris Court of Appeal for two hundred workers from the French electricity generating company EDF, each of whom was awarded €10,000 (US$12,000); the plaintiffs had worked at EDF power stations in Loire-sur-Rhône, Saint-Ouen, Vitry, Champagne-sur-Oise, Creil, Strasbourg, Blénod and Porcheville. The previous month, the court had recognized asbestos anxiety claims from 21 operatives from the EDF Porcheville site. All the claimants are suffering from distress caused by knowledge of the toxic workplace exposures they had experienced. See: Amiante: environ 200 ex-salariés d’EDF indemnisés pour un préjudice d’anxiété [Asbestos: around 200 former EDF employees compensated for anxiety damage].

Apr 12, 2021

The first reading of a bill (No. 4142) to ban asbestos was approved by the Ukraine Parliament. The draft legislation prohibited: “The production and use of asbestos, regardless of the type, as well as asbestos-containing products and materials, is prohibited in technological processes and in the implementation of construction and installation work at any facilities.” According to Mikhail Radutsky, Chair of Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee for Health, Medical Care and Medical Insurance, the ban legislation is facing stiff opposition from the “asbestos lobby.” See: Законопроект о системе общественного здоровья ко второму чтению получил около 900 поправок – Радуцкий [Public health system bill receives about 900 amendments to the second reading – Radutsky].

Apr 12, 2021

The danger posed by the delivery of water through asbestos-cement water pipes in Sakarya – a Turkish Province on the Black Sea coast – was highlighted last week by Sakarya politician Ecevit Keleş who stated that the problem, which was a serious issue affecting public health, needed to be addressed urgently. He called for a collaborative effort by every level of government, from Mayor Ekrem Yüce to President Erdogan and including municipal, provincial and national health and administrative authorities, to prioritize the replacement of the toxic pipes with safer alternatives. See: Keleş, Sakarya'da asbestli borularının olduğunu ifade etti! [Keles stated that they have asbestos pipes in Sakarya!].

Apr 15, 2021

The issue of banning asbestos in Ukraine has been caught up in a geopolitical conflict over the country’s quest to join the European Union and the determination of its former ally and now occupier, Russia to prevent it from doing so. Throughout the 21st century, Russia has been the world’s biggest producer of chrysotile asbestos and, as such, has orchestrated diverse stratagems to protect global asbestos markets and discredit evidence about the health hazards posed by asbestos usage. At every turn, Ukraine asbestos stakeholders – including but not limited to members of the Ukraine Chrysotile Association – working with foreign lobbyists have attacked attempts in Ukraine to end the use of a substance banned in scores of countries as per recommendations of agencies such as the WHO, ILO, and IARC. [Read full article]

Apr 14, 2021

The furore over news that an asbestos-laden aircraft carrier was destined for scrapping at a Turkish shipyard has brought to the fore the failure of the country to address the invisible but deadly legacy caused by its consumption of around 1 million tonnes of asbestos, the presence of naturally occurring asbestos in rural areas and the consequences of hazardous working conditions in ship recycling/scrapping yards. In recent days, opposition to the import of another toxic ship to Izmir has been growing by the hour with petitions being submitted to the port authorities, outspoken condemnation by scientists, environmentalists, and health and safety campaigners and even threats of legal action to prevent the dismantling from taking place. [Read full article]

Mar 24, 2021

Under the cover of the global pandemic which has already killed more than a quarter of a million Brazilians, asbestos industry stakeholders continue illegal efforts to maximize profits despite deadly human consequences. In contravention of a Supreme Court ruling (2017) and state laws, executives from the Sama Minerações Associadas (SAMA) company are collaborating with municipal and state politicians to pursue diverse options to achieve their goal: the export of SAMA asbestos. These crimes are being exposed by the Public Ministry of Labor which has obtained multiple injunctions to prevent the transport, handling and export of SAMA asbestos. [Read full article]

Mar 22, 2021

Last week, legal victories in Spain revealed a seismic shift in the landscape for asbestos victims. On March 15, 2021 the Supreme Court confirmed the right to compensation for asbestos injuries to people who had lived near an asbestos factory in Barcelona; the Court acknowledged that family members of factory workers as well as local people were eligible for financial restitution from Uralita, formerly Spain’s biggest asbestos manufacturer. On March 16, news was circulated of a plaintiff’s verdict in a case brought by the family of José María Íñigo, a famous Spanish broadcaster who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in 2018. A Madrid Court ruled that his death had been caused by occupational exposures to asbestos at the studios of the Spanish broadcasting corporation: RTVE. [Read full article]

Mar 10, 2021

Representatives of Brazilian and Asian asbestos victims’ groups and campaigners active in the global struggle to protect human beings from deadly exposures to asbestos have issued an open letter to authorities investigating the illegal export of asbestos from the São Paulo Port of Santos. The correspondents congratulated personnel at the Sanitary Surveillance Department of Santos Port, the Labor Public Prosecutor's Office and São Paulo Health Department for steps taken to uphold the country’s asbestos ban and to protect populations in importing countries from toxic exposures. The letter’s authors highlighted the UN publication ultimatum: “that States refrain from permitting the export of hazardous substances for uses in other countries different from those they permit in their own. (Versão em Português) [Read full article]

Mar 5, 2021

In recent days, asbestos victims and campaigners have launched legal, social and political initiatives to address glaring asbestos injustices and improve conditions for the injured in Latin America, Europe and North America. In Brazil, warnings by an asbestos victims’ group prevented an illegal shipment of asbestos from leaving the country; in France, asbestos victims appealed to the Attorney General at the Supreme Court and the Minister of Justice for assistance in expediting criminal trials of those responsible for the country’s asbestos scandal; in the UK, the work of victims’ groups was mentioned in Parliament during a debate which highlighted the effects the pandemic had had on the rights of asbestos victims, while in the US, advocacy groups sought to force the EPA to adequately evaluate asbestos health risks. [Read full article]

Mar 1, 2021

February 23, 2021 marked a watershed moment for the global asbestos victims’ community with the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that an Australian research foundation had been recognized as the first WHO Collaborating Centre on Asbestos-Related Diseases. Despite all the evidence documenting the deadly consequences of asbestos use, over one million tonnes of asbestos are still being used every year. The identification of asbestos victims is a crucial first step in visualizing the human price being paid for the asbestos industry’s profits. The larger the number of victims diagnosed and the greater their visibility, the more pressure will be exerted on governments to take the only morally defensible action possible and ban asbestos. [Read full article]

Feb 23, 2021

Throughout the pandemic, there’s been a resurgence of support for sustainable development, “environment-friendly policymaking,” “better informed government direction,” and evidence-based decision making. Politicians the world over have pledged to “build back better,” “restore science to Government,” “mobilize science” to protect the health and well-being of citizens and develop policies “guided by the best available scientific data.” The accomplishment of these goals will be fundamental to addressing climate change and creating a greener economy for current and future generations. The continuing use of asbestos is incompatible with this shared vision and the decline in its use over recent years substantiates the widespread rejection of this toxic technology. [Read full article]

Feb 11, 2021

Writing to Brazil’s Ministries of Defence and Environment, campaigners from Latin America and Europe highlight troubling issues over the upcoming auction of the aircraft carrier São Paulo. In their letter, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the Brazilian Association of the Asbestos-Exposed (ABREA) and partnering organizations express concern that the vessel might wind up on a ship-breaking beach in South Asia. The carrier, they point out, “contains large amounts of asbestos that needs to be handled and disposed of without exposing workers and surrounding communities to the risk of cancer.” [Portuguese version] [French version]. [Read full article]

Feb 2, 2021

No sooner were French asbestos victims hailing a judicial breakthrough in their 25-year-old campaign to hold employers, executives and managers to account for deadly workplace exposures, than another legal stratagem was launched which will, at the very least, delay criminal proceedings for another two years. Even before the print had dried on the January 20 judgment, news was circulating that an appeal had been lodged by Ms. Champrenault, the Attorney General at the Paris Court of Appeal, to the Court of Cassation (France’s Supreme Court). Adding insult to injury, Champrenault announced that whilst the appeal to the Court of Cassation was pending, she intended to request an order suspending, for the time being, hearings on all other major asbestos cases before the Court of Appeal. [Read full article]

Jan 28, 2021

European groups representing asbestos victims and campaigning associations have expressed concerns over the January 29, 2021 auction of the former Portuguese vessel MV Funchal which is being sold two years after it was purchased by the UK company Signature Living, now in administration. Rumors are circulating that the vessel – which has remained berthed in Lisbon since it was bought – will be scrapped. According to a campaigner who has been closely monitoring the situation, there are “about 100 tons of asbestos in a friable state, namely composed of the fiber types chrysotile, amosite and tremolite” on-board, which were identified by a hazardous substance audit (see also: Versão Portuguesa) . [Read full article]

Jan 27, 2021

“Sham” documentation¸ clandestine ownership by offshore companies, and breaches of international conventions and national regulations continue to endanger Bangladeshi shipbreaking workers and communities. The commercial exploitation of regulatory loopholes combined with large financial incentives are a toxic combination attracting international customers to scrap surplus tonnage at beaching yards in Bangladesh, the top ship-recycling country in the world. With ill-informed government officials, a lack of testing capacity and the non-existence of health and safety regulation of the informal sector shipowners as well as shipbreaking companies remain immune from prosecution for injuries or contamination caused by their business practices. [Read full article]

Jan 20, 2021

The 2018 mesothelioma death of Spanish household name José María Íñigo remains unresolved. Court proceedings begin in Madrid this week (January 21) in an attempt by his family to find his employer – the Spanish Radio and Television Company (RTVE) – liable for occupational asbestos exposures experienced whilst the broadcaster was working in the company’s iconic Studio 1. The first step in the litigation is to obtain a finding that the cause of death was due to occupational exposure. Once that has been achieved, the family will progress the personal injury lawsuit for compensation begun by José María Íñigo. A victory in this case with strengthen the rights of all Spanish asbestos victims. [Read full article]

Dec 22, 2020

Developments this year have been unprecedented in living memory: lives lost, families decimated, health systems attacked and economies wrecked. There have been few communities which have been spared the devastation wrought by the coronavirus. Despite this bleak scenario, campaigners and groups working to support victims of asbestos-related diseases continued their efforts, recognizing that amongst those most vulnerable to Covid-19 were people whose lungs had been damaged by asbestos. This snapshot of some of the outstanding initiatives rolled out in 2020 is indicative of the long-term sustained efforts being made to address another global pandemic, one caused by exposures to asbestos, which is claiming up to 250,000 lives a year. [Read full article]

Dec 2, 2020

In a letter dated November 27, 2020, asbestos victims groups from Belgium, Italy, France and the UK called on the President of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) – a lobbying group representing the interests of international asbestos industry stakeholders – to resign, due to the inherent hypocrisy of an EU citizen promoting sales of a carcinogenic substance abroad whilst it is banned at home. The ICA’s President is Emiliano Alonso, a Spanish lawyer and professional lobbyist, with offices in Madrid and Brussels. The letter called on him “to stop aiding and abetting this discrimination and racism… [and] stop helping the asbestos industry create more asbestos victims in developing countries.” (French version of letter.) (Article is English version.) [Read full article]

Nov 16, 2020

On November 9, 2020, Bruce Dunn, Director of the Asian Development Bank’s Safeguards Division, confirmed their intention to prohibit use of all asbestos-containing products on ABD projects. The ADB had first announced its intention to close an existing loophole – allowing the use of bonded asbestos cement sheeting composed of less than 20% asbestos fiber – at the end of 2019 when an ADB representative confirmed that: “From 2020, ADB will refrain from financing any new projects containing any presence of asbestos; this update will be reflected in the next review of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement.” Welcoming the news, Sugio Furuya of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network said: “The Bank’s prohibition of asbestos sends out a signal loud and clear that there is no place in the 21st century for asbestos.” [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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USGS Asbestos Trade Data

Fiber Producers (2018)
(tonnes):
   Russia710,000
   Kazakhstan203,000
   China125,000
   Brazil110,000
    
 Top Five Users (2016)
(tonnes):
   India308,000
   China288,000
   Russia234,000
   Brazil120,000
   Indonesia114,000