Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) works for Asbestos Free India inspired by trade union leader Purnendu Majumadar. Occupational Health India and ToxicsWatch Alliance are its members that includes doctors, researchers and activists. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. It works with trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. For Details:1715krishna@gmail.com, oshindia@yahoo.in

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lancet Condemns Hypocritical Canada and Quebec

Note:Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) expresses its appreciation for The Lancet's World Report on Asbestos titled "Canada accused of hypocrisy over asbestos exports" published on December 9, 2010. The report authored by Tony Kirby notes, "Although Canada will not expose its own citizens to asbestos, its plans to continue exporting the deadly substance to developing countries has drawn widespread condemnation. 

Excerpts from the report:
"Canada’s exports seemed to be at an end. That was until an Indian consortium, led by Montreal-based financier Baljit Chadha, put in a bid to convert the recently closed Jeffrey Mine from an open pit to an underground operation. This would see production and exports run for another 25 years, boosting yearly output to a maximum of 260000 tonnes—around 10% of global production. It would also secure 500 jobs for miners and others. The Quebec Government, led by Jean Charest, is considering providing a $US57 million loan guarantee to the project. A spokesperson for the Quebec Government confirmed the matter was under consideration, and that the government required an economic partner to go ahead. She added that there must be a guarantee both of profitability and that the operators will “follow the rules of safe use of chrysotile effective in Canada."

“‘...If this mine re-opens, the Canadian and Québec Governments will have blood on their hands for generations to come’.” 

BANI has appealed to legislators of Quebec, Canada and India to stop mining of the killer fibers of asbestos. 
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) 

Lancet Condemns Hypocritical Canada and Quebec Governments for Exporting Deadly Asbestos to Vulnerable Developing Countries

Dr Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, said: "The links between asbestos and lung cancer, including mesothelioma, have long been established. The governments of Québec and Canada should not be exporting asbestos to developing nations where there are few or no workplace regulations to protect workers or the general population from its lethal effects. They should, as governments of a high-income nation, be setting an example to other asbestos-exporting nations - such as Russia and Kazakhstan - by declaring this practice is no longer acceptable.

"The Lancet adds its voice to those of the many anti-asbestos campaigners worldwide, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and others, who are calling for an end to this immoral export of asbestos-related death and disease to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. We call on the Government of Québec not to back re-development of the Jeffrey Mine which would continue asbestos exports for another 25 years. Like WHO, The Lancet will be happy to seeasbestos phased out of use of in all parts of the world." 

If governments in Canada recognise that restrictions and regulations are essential to protect our citizens from the devastating effects of this hazardous product, why do they allow asbestos to be exported to other countries that may lack the resources to protect their own citizens?" asks CMA president Jeff Turnbull. "We have a social responsibility to protect not only the health of Canadians but that of citizens elsewhere who are being harmed by a Canadian export. Canada should not be abdicating this responsibility," he adds. 

For many years, Canada has been a major exporter of white asbestos or 'chrysotile', with other major exporters being Russia, Kazakhstan, and Brazil. But in the past two decades, bans on chrysotile (in addition to those long in force for blue and brown asbestos) have existed, either in law or de facto, in many high-income countries, including the United Kingdom, which banned chrysotile in 1999, and Canada itself, which has not legally banned chrysotile but has a de facto ban. As such, more and more of Canada's asbestos has been going to developing countries, where few or no protections exist and as such a time-bomb of deadly asbestos-related death and disease will continue to grow. Mesothelioma is a specific lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and diagnosis is almost always a death sentence. In the UK, deaths from mesothelioma have climbed from 895 in 1990 to 2,249 in 2008, with no sign of declining, as the effects of workers' exposure in the 1960s and 70s continue to manifest. Similar trends are occurring in other high-income nations. 

Canada's chrysotile resources have been dwindling. However, an Indian-led consortium (led by Montreal-based financier Baljit Chadha) is now planning to convert the recently closed Jeffrey Mine in Québec from open pit to underground, which would see Canada produce and export some 10% of the world's asbestos again. Protests are going on in London (9 Dec), Québec, and Asian cities against the Québec and Canada governments to stop the loan guarantee being given. In London, a coalition of UK anti-
asbestos groups are protesting against the reopening of the Jeffrey Mine outside Canada House, London, before handing in a petition to 10 Downing Street. In Québec, an Asian Delegation from affected importing countries (including Indonesia, India, Korea and Japan) is holding a number of public events and press conferences across the province. 

For full World Report see: http://press.thelancet.com/wrcanada.pdf 

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