Ukraine Bans Asbestos!
Updated July 8, 2017 (see bottom of page)
Today (June 26, 2017) a press briefing entitled Health without compromises Ukraines Ministry of Health prohibits the use of asbestos and products containing it was held in Kyiv (Kiev) at noon to announce that Ukraine had formally banned asbestos. The event, which was organized by Ukraines Ministry of Health and the non-governmental organization MAMA-86, which actively campaigns on environmental issues, was addressed by Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister for Public Health and European Integration, Olga Tsyguleva, Coordinator of the Program on Chemical Safety for MAMA-86, and Oleksil Shumilo, Head of Kharkiv City NGO EcoPravo-Kharkiv.
During the meeting, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health confirmed that the asbestos prohibition adopted by the Ministry of Health on March 29, 2017 MOH Ukraine number 339: On safety and protection of workers from the harmful effects of asbestos and materials and products containing asbestos and approved this month (June 2017) by relevant ministries and government departments had now come into force.
The new regulations, which ban the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile (white) asbestos, were achieved in the face of fierce opposition from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists. This is no surprise given that amongst Ukraines neighbors are two countries which account for around 65% of global asbestos output. Between 2009 and 2015, Ukraine imported an average of ~42,200 tonnes of asbestos a year. This ban will adversely impact on the financial prospects of Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mining companies, however, perhaps of even greater import is the strategic significance of Ukraines action. After all, if Ukraine can ban asbestos, so too can other asbestos-using countries in the region such as Uzbekistan, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.1
June 26, 2017
UPDATE July 8, 2017
Following a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine on June 26, 2017 during which a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products would be banned after a six month phase-out period by the MoH, political and economic pressure brought to bear by the asbestos industry on government officials escalated to fever pitch. As a result, the Government has not yet confirmed the prohibition on the use of asbestos and whether it will, as promised, ban the import of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. If the Government succumbs to the lobbying of the asbestos industry, the import and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products could remain legal in Ukraine. We await further news about developments.
1 According to data from the United States Geological Survey, in 2015 those countries imported 71,565 tonnes of asbestos. The amounts they purchased were (tonnes): Uzbekistan (56,051), Belarus (7,291), Turkmenistan (4,788), Kyrgyzstan (2,921) and Tajikistan (514).