Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) that 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

Monday, July 30, 2012

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL EPIDEMIOLOGY ORGANIZATIONS LAUNCH CALL FOR A GLOBAL BAN ON ASBESTOS

Asian Journal, July 27, 2012 http://www.asianjournal.ca/july%2027_12/ot_head1.html

2008 figures for Canada’s asbestos exports show that almost 43 per cent of the cancer-causing material went to India

Stephen Harper shamelessly encouraging asbestos exports to kill Indians!

NATIONAL and international organizations that study the causes and prevention of disease epidemics this week called for a global ban on the mining, use, and export of all forms of asbestos. Their statement has already been endorsed by over 150 public health, civil society organizations and individual scientists from 20 countries.

“Continued use of asbestos will lead to a public health disaster of asbestos-related illness and premature death for decades to come, repeating the epidemic we are witnessing today in industrialised countries that used asbestos in the past,” said Dr. Stanley Weiss, Chair of the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology (JPC-SE), which released the statement this week. The JPC-SE comprises a number of Canadian, U.S. and international epidemiology organizations.

“We call specifically on the major asbestos exporting countries – Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Russia – to respect the right to health by ceasing the mining, use, and export of asbestos, and providing transition assistance to their asbestos-mining communities,” said Dr. Robert Hiatt, representing the American College of Epidemiology.

“The asbestos industry continues today to undermine public health policy by denying the overwhelming scientific evidence and promoting asbestos use in developing countries,” said Professor Colin Soskolne, PhD, past-president of the Canadian Society of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “According to the WHO, over 100,000 people around the world die unnecessary and painful deaths every year as a result.”

“With irrefutable scientific evidence of harm to human health resulting from exposure to all forms of asbestos, we considered it to be of critical importance to take a clear position in support of the objective scientific evidence that all use of asbestos should stop,” said Dr. Weiss. The 25-page statement, which details the latest scientific research, expresses “grave concern that the governments of Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam are recklessly putting their own and other citizens in peril by allowing asbestos mining and trading to take place.”

The statement urges countries to inform their citizens of the hazards of asbestos and to establish an inventory of asbestos already in place, particularly in schools where children are at risk of exposure.

The statement notes that the asbestos industry has used tactics of intimidation to try to silence scientists. It urges public health organizations to support the right of scientists and academics to carry out their work in the public interest free from intimidation.

SOME ASIAN JOURNAL WRITE-UPS ON ASBESTOS SINCE 2010:

* July 6, 2012:
Desperate Quebec Premier Jean Charest Is Going To Kill More Indians With Cancer-Causing Asbestos: What The Hell Are Cowardly South Asian MP’s Doing About It?

http://www.asianjournal.ca/july%206_12/roar_2.html

* January 27, 2012:
Deadly Asbestos: Contractor Jailed For 60 Days, But What About Prime Minister Harper And Greedy Businessmen?

http://www.asianjournal.ca/jan%2027_12/rattan%20roar.html

* December 9, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Christmas Gift To Poor Indians: More Cruel Deaths By Asbestos Exports

http://www.asianjournal.ca/dec%209_11/roar_2.html

* October 11, 2011
Yes, Mr. Baljit Chadha, You Are Exporting Death To India – And Shame On You!

http://www.asianjournal.ca/oct%2021_11/roar_1.html

* August 19, 2011
Harper’s Conservative Bullies Are An International Disgrace: Widow Of Asbestos Victim Should Not Be Harassed
http://www.asianjournal.ca/aug%2019_11/roar_4.html

* June 17, 2011
Harper, Stop Killing Indians With Asbestos!
http://www.asianjournal.ca/june%2017_11/main%20headline.html

* April 19, 2011:
Mr. Harper, Why Are You Killing People In India And Other Countries Around The World With Asbestos?
http://www.asianjournal.ca/apr%2029_11/roar_2.html

* September 9, 2010:
… And Back To Killer Asbestos!
http://www.asianjournal.ca/sep%209_10/roar_3.html

You can read more on this issue at www.AsianJournal.ca by typing in “asbestos” in the Google search box on the website.

Invader in white

Ameya Charnalia, The Hindu Activists demand an immediate rollback of Canada’s decision to resume mining of carcinogenic asbestos that causes a range of health ailments to people in countries where it is exported to, including India After the only two remaining asbestos mines in Canada’s Quebec province wrapped up operations in 2011, the country became asbestos-mining free for the first time in 130 years. But, in a recent move that has stunned several environmental, health, labour and human rights organisations, the government of Quebec has sanctioned a $58 million loan to revive the inoperative ‘Jeffrey Mine’ to resume asbestos mining. With an estimated 90 per cent of Canada’s asbestos being exported to developing countries like India, advocacy campaigns in both India and Canada have strongly condemned this turn of events, renewing calls for a ban on the mining. Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA), an Indian advocacy initiative and one of two members of the Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) movement, has stepped up its lobbying with the Central government to stop asbestos usage by banning imports. In a statement, TWA said: “India has taken a position which considers white asbestos a hazardous substance. Mining of asbestos is technically banned in India. Trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibres) is also banned. The government should take the next logical step and phase out asbestos use.” Despite calls for bans, India remains particularly infamous as the one of the largest importers of asbestos. On the proliferation of asbestos usage in India, TWA’s convener Gopal Krishna said: “Artificial pricing through governmental patronage has made asbestos cheaply available.” Chrysotile, the most common form of asbestos used in India, is a fibrous substance often mixed with cement to create a fire-retardant mixture applied to corrugated steel sheets and pipes. Called “the poor man’s material”, it is often used in roofing structures by the poor in India because of its high resistivity and low-cost. On the availability of alternatives to asbestos, Mr. Krishna said: “There are multiple alternatives to the multiple uses of asbestos.” He stressed that industries and countries that have banned asbestos have managed to do without it because of the availability of substitutes. Commonly cited alternatives to asbestos are cellulose and agricultural fibres. Affordability nevertheless can come at the cost of contracting lethal lung diseases, caused by inhalation of chrysolite dust — a common occurrence in asbestos plants, where safety regulations are minimal and often not enforced. An investigation by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reporter Melissa Fung in June 2009 revealed how Indian workers were shockingly ill-equipped when handling asbestos. “Many workers were found to be working wearing little more than bandanas, sometimes no protective gear at all,” revealed the investigation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies asbestos as a known carcinogen, estimating that over 1,07,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. It remains banned in over 50 countries. Canada exported 1,00,000 tonnes of asbestos in 2010, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians — Canada’s largest social justice organisation — said: “Canada has repeatedly blocked asbestos from being listed as a hazardous chemical by the United Nations, even while governments spend large amounts of money back at home helping remove asbestos from Canadian homes and offices.” While Indian delegates distanced themselves from Canada’s position on asbestos trade at the U.N.’s Rotterdam Convention in 2011 by favouring listing asbestos as a restricted chemical, the Supreme Court of India refused to ban the substance in January 2011, instead directing state governments to regulate its use and manufacture. In Canada, the asbestos issue is subject to frequent politicisation, with the official Opposition party — The New Democratic Party (NPD), holding 58 of 75 federal seats in Quebec, noted as opposing asbestos mining and exports. Ms. Barlow added: “The Indian government must not listen to the handful of investors and big business operators in their demand for Canadian asbestos. The health and safety of the people is paramount and we join the people of India in their opposition to Canadian asbestos imports.” In the midst of demonstrations by villagers against asbestos plants in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha among others recently, TWA has urged the government to begin a compensation fund for the victims of asbestos related diseases, in addition to phasing out all use of the substance. “The only way to prevent deadly diseases is to prevent mining, trade, manufacturing and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-based products,” said the release. The figure of asbestos’ victims in India remains elusive as no official estimate has been collected. For victims and campaigners, however, the struggle against asbestos continues. Keywords: carcinogenic asbestos, Jeffrey Mine, Toxics Watch Alliance, asbestos related diseases

Ban asbestos exports to India: Australian Senator to Canada

Note: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)has written to Senator from Tasmania Lisa Singh urging her to ban asbestos and uranium exports to India. Gopal Krishna Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Ban asbestos exports to India: Australian Senator to Canada Australia, which has banned the use of asbestos, should step in and ask Canada to halt the exports of the silicate minerals to India where it is widely used, a Labor Senator has said. Senator from Tasmania Lisa Singh, the first person of South Asian decent to be elected to the Australian Parliament and chairperson of an all-party group on asbestos, was on a visit to India recently where she met anti-asbestos activists. According to reports, Singh has expressed hope that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government should make its views known to the Canadians. "I think that we have to really lead by our own example and really make it very clear that this is simply not on. I mean this is a developed nation, Canada knows better than this. "Canada won't use asbestos themselves but they are quite happy to export it to developing countries to you know, areas where they know they've got that open market because the safety regulations in those countries are not as strong," she said. "Now that is simply not on and I think Australia and other developed nations like the EU nations that have also banned asbestos, need to put that pressure onto Canada and make sure that they stop this absolutely appalling trade,”" she said. India is said to be one of the world's biggest markets for asbestos, along with China and Brazil. According to health experts, the prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Quebec's provincial government recently provided USD 56 million loan to re-open a local ailing asbestos Jeffrey mine. The mine's white asbestos is regarded as lethal to use in Canada but it is likely to be shipped to India where use of asbestos is still widespread. Jeffrey had ceased production late last year but is said to be back in operation after the latest infusion of cash. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ban-asbestos-exports-to-india-aus-senator-to-canada/978722/0

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saying no to Canada's asbestos

Last month, the Quebec government revealed it would lend $58-million to the Jeffrey Mine, the country's last operating asbestos mine. At the time, mine officials said the money would be enough to keep it operating for 20 years, and we condemned Quebec premier Jean Charest's decision to essentially provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for a "carcinogenic corporate cadaver." (The Jeffrey Mine already had closed when the province stepped in with the funds, and was unlikely to have reopened without the government's intervention.)

Our objection, which is echoed by critics as varied as the New Democratic Party and the Canadian Cancer Society, was based on the fact that nearly all the mine's clients are developing countries where the prospects of asbestos being used safely are remote. Thailand, India and China represent the core of the mine's business and funding. Selling them a substance that we Canadians find too dangerous for our own use isn't illegal, but it is ethically problematic, and thereby harms Canada's reputation on the world stage.

But now it appears that Thai authorities are actively trying to ban chrysotile asbestos imports within the next few months. In January 2011, Thailand's National Economic and Social Advisory Council recommended banning imports and sales of asbestos in Thailand due to its link to health problems, including cancer. A month later, Thai authorities adopted a resolution in furtherance of that goal. The package of measures proposed therein will be presented to Thai lawmakers this September.

Oran Vanich, a major roof-tile manufacturer based in Thailand, which invested $14-million in the Jeffrey mine, has publicly questioned the danger of asbestos in the past. In August 2011, Oran Vanich's CEO, Kriewsakul Uran, declared that the roof tiles being manufactured with asbestos in Thailand "pose no health risk." During a public forum on the subject two weeks ago, he added: "Only 55 of 194 member states of the World Health Organization have stopped the use and so far it has not been proved that asbestos causes death. If Thailand ends it, that will be tantamount to executing the innocent."

Despite the hysterical rhetoric, Thai authorities seem adamant about pursuing the ban. Key international health associations, including the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Commission on Occupational Health and the World Bank, have gone on record about the risks posed by asbestos. The World Health Organization says all types of asbestos "cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer," and that there is no safe threshold of exposure.

The question for Canadians becomes this: With even developing nations speaking out about the health risks of asbestos, how can the Charest government defend its decision to artificially prop up an industry that has reached - and surpassed - its natural demand-driven commercial lifespan?

Quebec taxpayers might be particularly interested in asking that question. Between 2006 and 2009, Canadian asbestos accounted for nearly 11% of Thailand's annual consumption, or almost 11,000 tons a year. Once that market dries up, it will be even more difficult for the Jeffrey Mine to repay its government loan.

Chantal Corbeil, spokesperson for Investments Quebec, the institution that manages the government's $58-million loan to the Jeffrey Mine, has acknowledged that the provincial agency wasn't aware of the Thai efforts to ban asbestos until very recently. She said the association isn't worried about Thailand's actions because the mine "has many clients concentrated in many different countries."

If that were true, the company wouldn't have needed the public loan. And the fact the government was apparently in the dark about such a key development in the industry to which they contributed so much raises significant questions about what kind of blinkers they are willing to wear in exchange for votes.

The Quebec government is responsible for temporarily reviving an industry that endangers lives in faraway places. The Thai government's actions suggest that the developing countries in question may be starting to look out for their own. When other nations follow suit, the asbestos industry will eventually fall apart. It's only a matter of time.

When that happens, the Quebec Liberals will have to answer one simple question: Was it worth it?

National Post · Jul. 27, 2012 http://www.financialpost.com/todays-paper/Saying+Canada+asbestos/6997685/story.html

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kudos to Government of Thailand’s efforts to ban asbestos

To

Ms Yingluck Shinawatra
Prime Minister
Government of Thailand
Bangkok

Through Mr Pisan Manawapat Government of Thailand’s Ambassador to India

Date: July 27, 2012

Subject- Kudos to Government of Thailand’s efforts to ban asbestos

Madam,

This is with reference to news report ‘Thailand’s move to ban asbestos leaves Quebec looking foolish’ (National Post, Christopher Nardi, July 26, 2012), we wish to express our deep sense of appreciation for initiating efforts to ban chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) imports in the coming months.

We have noted that in January 2011, Thailand’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council recommended banning imports and sales of asbestos in Thailand due to its link to health problems, including cancer.

We welcome the resolution adopted in February 2011 by Thai authorities to ban it. It is indeed quite significant that the resolution was proposed by the National Health Commission of Thailand, chaired by you.

We have observed how your government has debunked misplaced claims about safe and controlled use of asbestos like more than 55 countries. There is no sanity in adopting Ostrich policy in eth face of the resolution passed by World Health Organization, International Labour Organisation World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Commission on Occupational Health and even the World Bank Group seeking elimination for future use of asbestos of all kinds including chrysotile to prevent preventable diseases and deaths of innocent workers, consumers and citizens from the killer fibers of asbestos.

We congratulate you for joining the anti-asbestos movement which is critical of countries like Canada and Russia who “export cancer”. Your government’s initiative reveals the immorality of Quebec government’s investment in Jeffrey asbestos Mine.

We wish to inform you that your action set an example for Government of India to follow which is also “considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure," a concept paper of September 2011 by the Indian Ministry of Labour. Besides even Indian Environment & Forests Ministry s Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health recommends, "Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out" and the Ministry of Chemicals has disassociate India from countries like Russia and Canada who derailed the international consensus thatcould have categorised chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.

We wish to state that you are on the right path. In India, the Union Budget 2011-12 made an implied critical reference to asbestos by including it under Health Ministry s National Health Insurance Plan (Rashtriya Swasthya Birna Yojana) to cover the 'unorganised sector workers in hazardous mining and associated industries like asbestos etc.

In light of the above, your sensitivity towards public health and action to address the environmental and occupational health crisis due to asbestos based hazardous industries is praiseworthy and worthy of emulation by ASEAN countries and Asian countries like India. Environmental and public health groups eagerly await the formal announcement of ban on the carcinogenic fibers. You have demonstrated that your government holds public interest rather than corporate interest dear to its heart.

Thanking You

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos India
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Web: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com, toxicswatch.blogspot.com

Cc
Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister

Thailand’s move to ban asbestos leaves Quebec looking foolish

National Post, Christopher Nardi Jul 26, 2012

Ever wonder what it feels like to loan $58-million to an industry whose biggest clients don’t even want your product and are actively working to ban it? If so, then look no further than Jean Charest for a prime example of an ill-advised investment. Last June, the Quebec Liberals announced a $58-million loan to Mineral Fiber, the company that owns Jeffrey Mine, in order to resuscitate the (rightfully) dead asbestos industry.

Nearly all the mine’s clients are developing countries, with Thailand, India and China representing the core of its business, and the core of its funding. Apart from Quebec’s loan, $11-million was invested by Baljit Chadha, leader of the Sikh community in Canada and co-owner of the mine, and $14-million was invested by a Thai company, Ulan Marketing. Ulan Marketing is part of a family of companies in Thailand known as Oran Vanich Co., which is the largest producer of construction products using asbestos in Thailand, with five plants and over 1,000 employees.

Surprisingly, La Presse is now reporting that Thai authorities are actively trying to ban chrysotile asbestos imports within the next few months. In January 2011, Thailand’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council recommended banning imports and sales of asbestos in Thailand due to its link to health problems, including cancer. A month later, Thai authorities adopted a resolution to ban the material from the country. The resolution was proposed by the National Health Commission of Thailand, chaired by the Prime Minister. The package of measures will be presented this September, according to the commission’s website.

Of course, with such a significant investment in Jeffrey Mine, Ulan Marketing won’t allow the ban without a fight. The organization has publicly questioned the danger of asbestos, such as in August 2011, when Oran Vanich’s CEO, Kriewsakul Uran said that the roof tiles being manufactured with asbestos in Thailand “pose no health risk.” During a public forum on the subject two weeks ago, he added: “Only 55 of 194 member states of the World Health Organization have stopped the use and so far it has not been proved that asbestos causes death. If Thailand ends it, that will be tantamount to executing the innocent.”

Despite the grisly warning, Thai authorities seem adamant on getting a ban. And why shouldn’t they? Asbestos use has met opposition from key health associations, such as the World Health Organization, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Commission on Occupational Health and the World Bank.

Thus, if Thailand, a country that has struggled mightily with human rights issues, is now at the forefront of the anti-asbestos movement, how can the Charest government defend its decision to “export cancer?” With dozens of organizations objecting to the loan on both economic and health reasons, the Liberals are coming under increasing fire for helping to revive and industry many were happy to see expire.

Between 2006 and 2009, Canadian asbestos accounted for nearly 11% of Thailand’s annual consumption, or just under 11,000 tons a year. The owners of Jeffrey Mine no doubt hoped that, with Thailand’s growing housing market and Oran Vanich’s ties to the country, their sales would increase exponentially.

To make things worse, Chantal Corbeil, spokesperson for Investments Quebec, the institution that manages the government’s $58-million loan, acknowledged that they weren’t aware of the efforts to ban asbestos until very recently. She said the association isn’t worried because the mine “has many clients concentrated in many different countries,” but the fact the government was in the dark about a key client raises significant red flags.

The longer the story of Quebec’s investment in Jeffrey Mine goes on, the more problems emerge. Unfortunately for Quebecers, the government is now so deeply involved in the industry that when it finally falls apart, not just the Liberals but all Quebecers will have to answer to one simple question: Why was it allowed to go on?

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/07/26/chris-nardi-thailands-move-to-ban-asbestos-leaves-quebec-looking-foolish/

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scientists press for global asbestos ban

CBC News , July 24, 2012: Canadian and International organizations released a statement Tuesday, calling for a global ban on the mining and exporting of asbestos.

"There is no controversy, we know it causes disease and death," Weiss told CBC News. "We are still dealing with the devastating impact of past use and we want to stop a continuing epidemic."

A call for the global ban on all forms of asbestos was made today by more than 150 international organizations.

The statement, released Tuesday, calling for the ban on the mining, use and export of all form of asbestos has already been approved by over 150 public health organizations and scientists from at least 20 countries.

The statement was released on the heels of last month's announcement by the Quebec government saying it would lend $58 million to help re-start the former Johns-Manville mine in Quebec, keeping the production and export of asbestos going for another 20 years.

"Continued use of asbestos will lead to a public health disaster of asbestos-related illness and premature death for decades to come, repeating the epidemic we are witnessing today in industrialized countries that used asbestos in the past," said Dr. Stanley Weiss, chair of the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, which released the statement.

The group includes a number of Canadian, U.S. and international epidemiology organizations, working together for the first time to fight the distribution of asbestos.

"The body of evidence is now so overwhelming and it was time to step up and come together as a group," Professor Colin Soskolne, past-president of the Canadian Society of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, told CBC News.

While activists argue asbestos is linked to cancer, industry proponents have insisted it can be used safely if handled properly.

"The vast majority of people who are not in the pocket of industry …we all agree that the time has come to expose the controversy as a non-controversy." Soskolne said. "There is no doubt about the harmful effects of asbestos, and there is not enough doubt to undermine the need for policy change."

Those opposed to asbestos are urging major producers — including Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia and Canada — to put an end to mining and exports and help communities make the transition to a different industry.

"Promoting deceit is immoral and we need to take a higher ground than the one we are taking … and help the people in those mining communities to retool and develop different industries," he said.
Canada 'exporting the problem'

In the 1960s and '70s a number of asbestos miners began showing signs of respiratory diseases and as a direct result Canada began to rid homes, schools and offices of the hazardous material applied as insulation. However, Canada still mines and exports white asbestos — which is a form the Canadian government says is safe to use.

"There is a profound double standard that can't be defended on any moral basis," Soskolne said. "Giving this substance to developing countries is utterly immoral."

The epidemiologists say they hope their efforts highlight the seriousness of the health hazards.

"There is no controversy, we know it causes disease and death," Weiss told CBC News. "We are still dealing with the devastating impact of past use and we want to stop a continuing epidemic."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/07/24/sci-global-asbestos-ban.html


External Links

Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology Position

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Canadian asbestos a far-reaching killer

By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer, July 20, 2012 http://www.theobserver.ca/2012/07/20/canadian-asbestos-a-far-reaching-killer

A Belgian activist who lost his parents and brothers to disease caused by asbestos mined in Canada will speak at this year’s Walk to Remember Victims of Asbestos in Sarnia.

Stacy Cattran, who is organizing the second annual walk Sept. 29, 11 a.m., at the Dow People Place with her sister Leah Nielsen, said they met Eric Jonckheere at a conference in Los Angeles earlier this year and invited him to speak at the walk.

Jonckheere, president of the Belgium society for asbestos victims, appeared in a documentary about Sarnia, Land of Destiny, Cattran said.

His family lived across the street from the factory where his father worked with asbestos from Canada.

“He lost his father, his mother and two brothers to mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease,” Cattran said. “And, he has asbestos in his lungs.”

She said Jonckheere hopes to visit Quebec while in Canada to speak out against Quebec’s decision to provide a $58-million loan allowing the Jeffrey asbestos mine in that province’s Eastern Townships to reopen.

Hearing of the plan to reopen the mine convinced Jonckheere to accept the invitation to the walk, Cattran said.

She and Nielsen organized the first walk last fall, which attracted more than 400 people to Sarnia’s Centennial Park to remember victims of asbestos-caused disease and call for an end to Canada’s mining and exporting of the mineral.

The sisters became activists after their father, an electrician who worked for a time in Chemical Valley, died of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Cattran called Quebec’s decision to help the mine “heart-breaking” but added she wasn’t completely surprised.

“We knew the Quebec government was quite eager to give them the money.”

Cattran said they’re working to attract even more people to this fall’s walk than last year.

“We hope we can send a really strong message to both the federal government and the Quebec government that Canadians don’t want” asbestos mining to continue in their country, Cattran said.

She and her sister have also been pushing for a public inquiry into Canada’s history with asbestos.

Information about the walk can be found online at asbestos.cattran.ca.

paul.morden@sunmedia.ca

Sunday, July 15, 2012

International Commission on Occupational Health calls for global ban on asbestos

The International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) is an international non-governmental professional society whose aims are to foster the scientific progress, knowledge and development of occupational health and safety in all its aspects. It was founded in 1906 in Milan as the Permanent Commission on Occupational Health. Today, ICOH is the world's leading international scientific society in the field of occupational health with a membership of 2,000 professionals from 93 countries. The ICOH is recognised by the United Nations as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and has close working relationships with ILO, WHO, UNEP and ISSA.

After a large consultation, large discussion, several comments among ICOH working groups, members of the ICOH Board and NGOs’ representatives, the ICOH President, Dr. Kazutaka Kogi, approved the ICOH Statement on Global Asbestos Ban and the Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases. We strongly thank all those who have given their contribution dedicating their time and work on it. We hope this ICOH statement represent an important tool towards the global asbestos ban and the elimination of all asbestos-related diseases.

ICOH Statement on Global Asbestos Ban and the Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases

The International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) calls for a global ban on the mining, sale and use of all forms of asbestos and the elimination of asbestos-related diseases. To accomplish the elimination of asbestos-related diseases, we urge each and every individual country to implement a total ban on production and use of asbestos. We also urge complementary efforts aimed at primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of asbestos-related diseases through country-specific “National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases” in line with ILO and WHO guidelines.

Malignant asbestos-related diseases include lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the ovary and larynx.1) There is sufficient evidence that amphibole asbestos (e.g., crocidolite) and serpentine asbestos (e.g., chrysotile) both cause malignancies of the lung, pleura and peritoneum.1) Non- malignant asbestos-related diseases include asbestosis and pleural abnormalities such as pleural thickening, pleural calcification and pleural effusion.2)

International consensus has recommended that a total ban on production and use of all forms of asbestos is the best way to eliminate the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases. In 2006 WHO stated that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using all types of asbestos.3) The ILO Resolution on Asbestos, 2006, calls for eliminating the use of asbestos and identifying and properly managing asbestos currently in place as the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos and to prevent future asbestos-related diseases and deaths.4) By government decision, a number of countries have already adopted a universal ban on all types of asbestos based on recognition of the substantial human and economic burden of diseases caused by asbestos. Some other countries have banned the use of amphibole asbestos, predominantly crocidolite, but have not banned the use of chrysotile. As there is sufficient evidence by the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC 2012) that chrysotile causes malignancies of the lung, pleura and peritoneum, amphibole-only bans are inadequate; asbestos bans need to include chrysotile as well.

Some countries have banned the production and/or use of asbestos-containing industrial products, but have continued to mine, sell and export asbestos. This is an unacceptable policy and should be reconsidered by those countries. In order to be effective, a total ban on production, use and export of all forms of asbestos should be achieved in every country.

Even after a total ban on production and use of asbestos is achieved, occupational exposures to asbestos will persist due to the continued presence of asbestos from prior use in building materials and durable machinery/equipment. Workers who carry out maintenance, demolition and removal of asbestos-containing materials will thus continue to be at risk. Therefore a set of protective measures must be implemented to optimize effective prevention. The adoption of a total ban on all use of asbestos and products, equipment and materials containing asbestos implies a need to follow up the implementation of the ban with supplementary regulations and national programmes for ensuring the elimination of all use of asbestos and the required protection from exposure to asbestos. This includes, as appropriate, the review of legislation and regulatory systems regarding trade and the protection of consumers and external environment.

Primary prevention involves ensuring control of exposures to airborne asbestos fibres, monitoring concentrations according to established standards and reporting exposure levels to appropriate authorities. There is no exposure level below which asbestos-related disease risk can be totally eliminated. To minimize asbestos exposure, reference exposure limits (i.e., threshold limit values or occupational exposure limits) should adhere to international norms. Complying with these limits will reduce, but not totally eliminate, the risk of asbestos-related diseases. Exposed workers should be informed about their working conditions and associated hazards, and provided with appropriate respirators. While respirators should not be relied upon as the sole means of routinely limiting exposure to asbestos fibres, workers provided with them should be trained for their proper use, and encouraged to wear them when warranted. Adequate fitting, changing of filters, sanitary storage and maintenance of respirators are also required for optimal protection. Licensing or authorization procedures need to be considered to ensure safe handling, repair, maintenance and demolishing operations. Ambient air levels at the boundary of demolition sites adjacent to residential areas should be strictly monitored and kept below exposure limits. Proper and safe handling of asbestos-contaminated waste is essential. Finally, in view of the synergistic effect of smoking and asbestos exposure on lung cancer risk, smoking cessation programmes are essential for all workers currently and previously exposed to asbestos.

Secondary prevention includes medical monitoring of exposed workers, early diagnosis and individual case management to prevent disease progression. Secondary prevention is not effective for mesothelioma and is not yet proven to be effective for lung cancer among asbestos exposed workers, but workers identified with early asbestosis can be transferred away from further exposure with the intent of slowing progression of their disease. Malignant and non-malignant asbestos-related diseases can be diagnosed according to established guidelines.2, 5)

Tertiary prevention includes medical intervention and public health services to limit disease-related disability and help workers affected by asbestos-related diseases to cope with chronic effects of their disease. Appropriate medical care and rehabilitation for the diseases and their potential complications, including immunization against pulmonary infections, should be provided. After disability and impairment evaluation, just compensation and disability benefits should also be provided, as warranted.

Individuals with asbestos-related diseases should be reported to authorities and public health registries. Public health surveillance of asbestos-related diseases, in particular malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural abnormalities, can help track progress towards eliminating asbestos-related diseases and may identify where further primary prevention efforts are needed. Public health surveillance of reported exposure levels can also be used to target enhanced primary prevention.

Achieving a worldwide ban on the mining, sale and use of all forms of asbestos and the elimination of asbestos-related diseases will require that physicians and occupational health personnel responsibly and persistently express their concerns, raise awareness and take necessary action regarding the need to prevent asbestos-related diseases. Recognizing the urgent need for coordinated actions, ICOH will continue to foster global and national collaboration in this endeavour, promoting the engagement of ICOH members in training occupational medicine and health professionals in competencies needed to support comprehensive national efforts to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

References

1) IARC, WHO. Asbestos (Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite). IARC Monographs, Volume 100C, 2012. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100C/mono100C-11.pdf
2) American Thoracic Society Documents. Diagnosis and Initial Management of Nonmalignant Diseases Related to Asbestos. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2004; 170: 691–715.
http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/content/170/6/691.full.pdf+html
3) World Health Organization. Elimination of asbestos-related diseases. WHO/SDE/OEH/06.03. September 2006. http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/asbestosrelateddiseases.pdf
4) International Labour Organization. Resolution concerning asbestos, 2006. http://www.ilo.org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/WCMS_108556/lang--en/index.htm
5) Asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer: the Helsinki criteria for diagnosis and attribution [consensus report]. Scand J
Work Environ health 1997;12: 311-316. http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=226

DESPERATE QUEBEC PREMIER JEAN CHAREST IS GOING TO KILL MORE INDIANS WITH CANCER-CAUSING ASBESTOS

DESPERATE QUEBEC PREMIER JEAN CHAREST IS GOING TO KILL MORE INDIANS WITH CANCER-CAUSING ASBESTOS: WHAT THE HELL ARE COWARDLY SOUTH ASIAN MP’S DOING ABOUT IT?

Asian Journal, July 6, 2012 http://www.asianjournal.ca/july%206_12/roar_2.html

SO a desperate Quebec Premier, Jean Charest, has now approved a $58-million loan to Canada’s last asbestos mine – a mine that “can only survive with artificial government life support,” as activist Kathleen Ruff put it – so that Canada can once again START KILLING poor people in INDIA and other developing countries with this CANCER-CAUSING material!

And what the hell are our South Asian Conservative Party MPs - minister of state Bal Gosal (Bramalea-Gore Malton), minister of state Tim Uppal (Edmonton-Sherwood Park), parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East), Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast), Parm Gill (Brampton-Springdale), and Nina Grewal (Fleetwood-Port Kells) – doing about this?

The COWARDS are too scared to speak out because of DICTATORIAL Prime Minister Stephen Harper who has been supporting the asbestos exports just to WIN VOTES!

In December 2010, the internationally prestigious magazine “Nature” in an editorial exposed Canada’s hypocrisy to the world as it pointed out: “Canada has been criticized for plans to expand asbestos mining operations, which export the material to India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Although Canada enforces strict guidelines on asbestos use at home to PROTECT ITS OWN PEOPLE, those in countries to which it sends the mineral have LITTLE OR NO PROTECTION.” (Capitalization mine for emphasis.)

Yes, even while we continue to spend millions of dollars in the removal of this cancer-causing material from buildings in Canada, our UTTERLY SHAMELESS Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been supporting asbestos export from the province of Quebec just to win votes.

As I have repeatedly said, my blood sure BOILS at Canadian blatant criminality and sheer hypocrisy in the suffering and death of thousands of POOR INDIANS and others around the world, thanks to Canadian asbestos – all for profits.

What moral standing can Canada have in the world with its ASBESTOS TERRORISM?

CHAREST needs every vote as he is expected to call an election later this year and, as the Globe and Mail newspaper pointed out, “while most Quebeckers oppose asbestos mining, the plan [to relaunch the asbestos mine] will have plenty of backers around the mine location in the Eastern Townships, where seats can swing.”

Canadian Cancer Society’s Paul Lapierre said: “It’s really beyond me, I really can’t understand how the government could make such a decision,” adding that the move was an “embarrassment.”

Canadian actress Heidi Von Palleske, who watched both her parents die from asbestos-related illnesses, said her mother is “turning over in her grave.” She said it was a shame that the fight against asbestos has to continue.

Yv Bonnier Viger, head of the province’s association of public-health specialists, said Charest had good reason to be ashamed as “he is relaunching the exploitation of an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS MATERIAL that will cause the SUFFERING and DEATH of thousands of people in poor countries, at only marginal benefit to a desperate community.”

Indeed, even as WHITE Canadians have boldly condemned the suffering and death asbestos is causing in India and other countries, our BROWN MPs are messing up their pants before Harper. They should OPENLY condemn this MASS MURDER.

THE Asian Journal has been attacking asbestos exports for the past two years after CBC TV’s Melissa Fung investigative feature titled “Canada’s Ugly Secret” - first aired in June of 2009 - exposed how Canadian diplomats actively promote the asbestos business.

Ironically, Harper’s own former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl has incurable lung cancer because of asbestos!

And last year about 250 doctors and public-health professionals urged Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, a prominent pediatric orthopedic surgeon, to honour her medical oath and oppose the asbestos industry. Dr. Leitch was an associate professor of surgery at the University of Toronto.

Last December, Workers’ Compensation Board lawyer Scott Nielsen told a Vancouver judge last month: “ASBESTOS KILLS. It was the LEADING KILLER of workers in B.C. in 2009, responsible for 44 PER CENT OF ALL DEATHS arising from employment.” [Capitalizations mine for emphasis.]

IN conclusion, let me reprint once again this piece:

WORKSAFEBC wrote on the dangers of asbestos for a South Asian audience some time ago. It warned homeowners: “Before you begin a renovation or repair work on your residence, take the proper precautions. Begin by hiring a qualified inspector. If asbestos is identified, the inspector will know what procedures are required to remove the asbestos and make sure your home is renovated safely.”

And then it added: “You can find asbestos inspection and removal companies in the Yellow Pages under Asbestos Removal, Health and Safety Consultants, or Environmental Consultants.

“WorkSafeBC also has information about asbestos, including a diagram of where it could be found in your home, in Punjabi on our website. Go to www.WorkSafeBC.com, select the Punjabi link at the top of the page and look for Asbestos Hazards in Demolition, Renovation, and Salvage.

“Have a safe day!”
Isn’t that HILARIOUS!

Keeping people of Indian origin in Canada safe – but exporting asbestos to India TO KILL OUR FELLOW INDIANS!

- RATTAN MALL
EditorAsianJournal@gmail.com
The BEST READ South Asian column in North America at www.AsianJournal.ca

Asbestos roofs pose a health threat to kids in 60 schools

Sreedevi Chitharanjan, Jul 15, 2012

KOZHIKODE: For the children of many schools in the district, the asbestos roofs over their head are posing a serious health hazard. Oblivious to the fact that the asbestos is carcinogenic (cancer-causing), they continue to attend classes. Though the State Human Rights Commission prohibited the use of asbestos as roofs in state schools in January 2009, nearly 60 schools, both private and government-run, in the district are yet to implement the order.

Though no cases of any asbestos-related diseases have been reported from these schools so far, the surprising fact is that the district education officials don't even have a proper account of the number of schools using asbestos as roofs.

"We do not have a consolidated data on this. Of the 1,162 schools in the government, aided and unaided sectors, less than 100 schools are functioning in temporary buildings made of asbestos roofs," said P Ajayakumar, deputy director of education in-charge.

Though the official claimed that the number is more in schools run by private managements, he quickly added that steps are being taken to ensure that government schools do not use asbestos. "We are in the process of ensuring that buildings of government schools that are functioning in the temporary sheds do not use asbestos," he said.

But the schools which use asbestos have their own reasons to defend the use of this carcinogenic material for roofs. Many say that lack of funds compel them use asbestos for roofing as it is cheaply available.

"We know the health hazards of asbestos sheets. But we are helpless. We don't have money to construct school building by spending huge sums. There were 15 classrooms under asbestos roofs. We have reduced the number to nine," said N Basheer, staff secretary of the Government Ganapath Model Girls HSS. He said the school would use Rs 1 crore granted by the state government to build nine new classrooms.

But many education department officials also blame the state government for the tardy progress in checking the use of asbestos in schools. "Though the government issued a circular, no follow-up action was taken to check if the order is being implemented," said an assistant education officer who declined to be named.

Meanwhile, doctors in the district forewarn that continuous exposure to asbestos also known as the deadly white fibre increases the risk of lung cancer. "Prolonged exposure can create scratches in the lung. It can also cause incurable mesothelioma cancer," said Dr E Narayanan Kutty Varrier, an oncologist. He said that children also face the risk of asbestosis, a condition in which the breathing ability of lungs is affected.

Considering the serious health threats to schoolchildren, the district panchayat is planning a special project as part of this financial year to remove asbestos sheets from government schools. "We have found 12 government higher secondary schools that use asbestos roofs. An initial discussion on this has already taken place with the deputy director of education," said K P Sheeba, district panchayat chairperson of health and education standing committee.

The Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kozhikode/Asbestos-roofs-pose-a-health-threat-to-kids-in-60-schools/articleshow/14916738.cms

Friday, July 13, 2012

Visaka’s No Objection Certificate for Asbestos Plant in Sambalpur Cancelled

Press Release

Visaka’s No Objection Certificate for Asbestos Plant in Sambalpur Cancelled

Villagers oppose asbestos plant in Bargarh too

When will inquiry report of Indian Air Force in President’s helicopter collision with asbestos roof at Bhubneshwar airport be made public, to pave way for safety of soldiers in army, navy and air force


New Delhi 13/7/2012: ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) and Ban Asbestos India campaign welcome the cancellation of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) given to the Visakha Asbestos Industries in Parmanpur, Sambalpur, Odisha has been cancelled by the District Magistrate, Sambalpur. The NOC which was provided earlier by the previous Sarpanch has been found illegal. The Padmanav Nath, new Sarpanch has cancelled it. The DM has approved this cancellation. The picture of the plant site is enclosed. The news clippings from Sambalpur attached.

TWA has learnt that despite the cancellation of the NOC, the plant is still running. Authorities must act to ensure that the plant's illegal operations are stopped.

The panchayat committee had not approved the commissioning of the plant at the place. The former Sarpanch Surendra Barik had given approval without the knowledge and consent of peoples’ representatives in violation of the Odisha Gram Panchayat Act. On a petition with the District Panchayat Officer filed by newly elected Sarpanch, the officer thoroughly inquired the matter and declared the NOC to be illegal in his report.

The company got consent to operate after the previous NOC. It has applied for renewal of license with the Odisha State Pollution Control Board for extension of its capacity to 2, 50, 000 MT.

The asbestos cement factory in Parmanpur has been facing massive and unprecedented opposition by the villagers. The Visaka Asbestos Industries’ proposed plant to manufacture 216,000 tons per annum of Asbestos Cement Sheets at Mouza: Paramanpur, Taluq: Maneswar, Dist:Sambalpur is fraught with disastrous consequences for the villagers of Odisha.

TWA had written to Odisha State Human Rights Commission after Parmanpur Gram Surakshya Samiti informed it about the hazardous plant.

Villagers of Nuagan, Kendupali, Lebidi Mauza and several other villages are also resisting the the proposed hazardous asbestos cement roofing factory at Naagaon-Lebidi villages, Sohella Block, Bargarh district of Odisha under the banner of Paribesh Suraksha Parishad (JPSP). The company M/s Viswakarma Roofings Ltd. intends to establish 150,000 Tonnes Per Annum of Asbestos Cement Sheets Manufacturing Project at Bargarh.

TWA had also written to Chief Minister of Odisha urging him to stop asbestos cement plants in Odisha

Prior to TWA had written to the President and Governor, when Odisha Governor’s Helicopter had collided with the asbestos shade at the Bhubneshwar airport when he was travelling with Hon’ble President Mrs Pratibha Devi Singh Patil on December 9, 2009. Clearly, asbestos danger is lurking in every corner in Odisha. There was inquiry ordered into this collision by Indian Air Force, Union Ministry of Defense. TWA wants to know as to when will the inquiry report in President’s helicopter collision with asbestos roof in Bhubneshwar be made public.

In a letter to the President dated January 3, 2010, it was pointed out that “Our armed forces are at a grave risk of asbestos exposure because asbestos has been used extensively in their work places and residential places. In the Army and Air Force, asbestos is used in brake and clutch pads installed in everything from tanks to jeeps to aircraft. Asbestos is part of the insulation in housing and other buildings on military bases, electric wiring insulation aboard military planes, and fire retardant materials used by military firefighters and gunners. In the Navy, Merchant Marine, and Coast Guard, it is even more widely used, mainly as thermal insulation aboard ships. Asbestos is used in old and new constructed naval vessels.

The letter further observed, “Our Ministry of Defence, Navy, Army and Air Force must be asked to compile statistics for how many soldiers have died from asbestos related diseases, how many are suffering from it and how many face the danger of exposure which causes asbestos-related lung cancers and serious respiratory diseases. Our airmen, sailors and soldiers would feel betrayed by the armed forces and the government they served if they come to know that they faced asbestos exposure and government did nothing to save them.”

TWA demands immediate moratorium on new asbestos based plants, a plan to decontaminate the pre-existing asbestos from public and private buildings and a compensation fund for the victims of asbestos related diseases.

For Details: Bibhuti Nath, Parmanpur Gram Surakshya Samiti, Parmanpur, Mb: 09937863255
Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance-Ban Asbestos India, Mb: 9818089660,
E-mail-krishna1715@gmail.com, Web:banasbestosindia.blogpsot.com, toxicswatch.blogspot.com



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quebec, Canada and UK Urged to Stop Financial Support to White Asbestos Industry

Press Release

Quebec, Canada and UK Urged to Stop Financial Support to White Asbestos Industry

UK Govt urged to disassociate London 2012 Olympics from Dow Chemicals, BP & Rio Tinto who want to green wash their brand


New Delhi, July 10, 2012: In a letter to Jean Charest, Premier, Government of Quebec, Canada and Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Government of Canada, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has expressed its sense of outrage and dismay at the announcement of a $58 million loan for revival of the Jeffrey Asbestos mine under the influence of Chrysotile Institute, a white asbestos industry funded group. Canadian High Commission has confirmed that the letter dated July 6, 2012 has been sent to their offices.

In a separate letter to Prime Minister of Government of United Kingdom his urgent intervention has been sought to stop banks, financial institutions and companies from investing in the Indian white asbestos industry. TWA has pointed out that companies like Jagjiwan Enchem Udyog Limited Company are admittedly “associated with world’s leading 150 years old reputed company M/s. Scandura Ltd., the British Belting Asbestos group of companies. Mr. Dilip J. Pandya founder promoter of the company had undergone intensive asbestos process training at M/s. Scandura Ltd., in England.” The company reveals that its Aqua Dispersion Process technology imported from BRITISH BELTING & ASBESTOS GROUP of U.K. The letter dated July 10, 2012 is attached. Such involvement of British business interests in asbestos companies is unacceptable. This also reveals a manifest case of double standard given the fact that use of asbestos is banned in UK.

Justifying asbestos trade is akin to justifying slave trade. It does not behove civilized countries like Canada and UK to endanger the lives of defenseless citizens and workers in developing country like India by exposing them to the carcinogenic fibers of white asbestos.

It is noteworthy that TWA and Ban Asbestos India campaign has purposefully persuaded several ministries of Government of India and other agencies to discourage and phase out white asbestos trade but India remains one of the key consumers of asbestos from Quebec, Russia and other countries. Years of efforts by citizen groups are beginning to yield results.

• Union Ministry of Labour has revealed that that the “Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos."

• Union Ministry of Chemicals took the right step on June 21, 2011 when it disassociated India from Canada and other asbestos producing countries in order to get white asbestos listed in the UN list of hazardous materials.

• Union Ministry of Mines has technically banned asbestos mining in India.

• Union Ministry of Railways is working to make all railway platforms in India asbestos free.

• Union Ministry of Environment & Forests has announced that asbestos may be phased out.

• Union Ministry of Finance has announced that asbestos related diseases will be covered under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana but this is hardly sufficient in the absence of environmental and occupational infrastructure.

• National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to all the State Governments, Union Territories and concerned ministries of central government to file the status of asbestos disease victims and asked them why it should not be banned. The Commission has underlined that keeping inmates under asbestos roof is harmful and alternative roofs should be used.

• Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) has made recommendations seeking banning use of asbestos roofs in its order dated January 31, 2009.

• Delhi Government has banned use of asbestos roofs for new schools.

• Villagers’ protest in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali in Bihar has led to closure of asbestos factories. The construction of lung cancer causing white asbestos plants in Madhubani, West Champaran and production in Bhojpur districts is also facing resistance.

• Villagers are protesting against the proposed hazardous asbestos cement roofing factories in Sambalpur and Bargarh district of Odisha.

• Protests against asbestos factories States like Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh is going on.

• Fact finding teams visited to asbestos plant in Maksi, Madhya Pradesh and asbestos factories in Jujjuru village, Veerulapadu Mandal, Krishna district, Hyderabad Industries Ltd, IDA in Kondapalli, Ramco Industries Ltd in Ibrahimpatnam and proposed factory site of Sahyadri Industries Ltd in Narasimharaopalem in Andhra Pradesh. During the visits in July and August 2011, the team interacted with workers and victims. It emerged that there is no official documentation of their plight.

It is quite evident that the epidemic of asbestos related diseases that has led to bankruptcy of asbestos companies as a result of their liabilities cannot be ignored.

This unscientific decision of the Liberal Party-led Quebec government that was announced on June 29, 2012 by ignoring the views of World Health Organisation (WHO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), National Public Health Institute, Canadian Medical Association and Canadian Cancer Society.

It is shocking to note that Government of Quebec, Canada chose to ignore independent scientific evidence regarding white asbestos. The medical scientific fraternity has noted that your decision is based on totally incorrect reading of the WHO position. The relevant WHO position reads: “the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos.”

TWA has urged the Quebec government and Canadian government to reconsider its decision and cancel the loan guarantee and help the asbestos disease affected communities in the developing countries. This decision of the Quebec government gives the impression that in Canada ether asbestos industry and the government are one entity or government is subservient to the lust for blind profit at human cost.

In its letter to UK Prime Minister, TWA has pointed out that in the U.S., Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $2.2 billion to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of the Union Carbide acquisition. Dow Chemical Company that purchased Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its Indian investments in 1999 has consistently denied inheriting any liability for the Bhopal gas disaster due to leakage of 40 tonnes of lethal methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from UCC plant into the surrounding environment, which has caused more than 20,000 deaths and 100,000 disabilities. UCC formerly made products containing asbestos, and UCC once mined asbestos for sale to customers. The mine of the UCC was sold in 1985. If Dow Chemicals can accept the asbestos liability of UCC, how can it argue that it does not have any liability of Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster? It has asked him to reconsider the association of London 2012 Olympics with questionable corporations like Dow Chemicals, BP and Rio Tinto to enhance UK’s stature as a civilized nation.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)-Ban Asbestos India,
Mb: 9818089660, E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com
Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 5, 2012

India Must Stop Import of White Asbestos to Prevent Public Heath Disaster


Press Release

Govt Must Stop Import of White Asbestos to Prevent Public Heath Disaster

Indo- Canada Free Trade Agreement Should Exclude White Asbestos Trade


New Delhi, July 5, 2012: Even as the central Government has publicly revealed that it does not favour carcinogenic chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) mineral fibers anymore, a consortium of mostly Indian investors have successfully lobbied hard to rejuvenate the asbestos mines in Quebec, Canada. This mineral fiber has pre-dominantly been used in the construction industry before its incurable disease causing nature came to light. Government of India must resist efforts of Canadian government to dump the cancer causing fibers of white asbestos on to present and future generation of Indians.

Unmindful of the epidemic of asbestos related diseases, Provincial Government of Quebec's decision to loan $58 million to one of the country's two remaining asbestos mines has outraged environmental, health, labour and human rights organizations. This loan will cover more than two-thirds of the cost of renovating and reopening the Jeffrey asbestos mine in Asbestos town of Quebec. Ignoring the moral responsibility to save fellow human beings in India from exposure to asbestos fibers, Quebec government has chosen to be act like a an impediment t o global cancer control as white asbestos causes lung cancer.

Disregarding the concerns of doctors and asbestos victims, this effort will also be funded by private investors, led by Balcorp Ltd., who will add another $25 million. As per figures available, Canada exported 750,000 tons of asbestos in 2006. India has been one of the major importers of Canadian asbestos. The Quebec government loan is aimed at reviving one of Canada’s last asbestos mines, assuring exports of carcinogenic fibers for another 20 years.

It is noteworthy that use of asbestos is banned in some 58 countries including the European Union, Japan, Australia and others. Due to lack of awareness of its health hazards white asbestos has been used in India but ministry after ministry is waking up its dangers and realize that safe and controlled use of asbestos is impossible as is indicated by the misinformation campaign of the global asbestos industry.

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) urges the Quebec government to reconsider its decision and cancel the loan guarantee and help the asbestos disease affected communities in the developing countries. This decision of the Quebec government gives the impression that in Canada ether asbestos industry and the government are one entity or government is subservient to the lust for blind profit at human cost.

Government of India took the right step on June 21, 2011 when at a meeting of UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade disassociated itself from Canada and other asbestos producing countries in order to get white asbestos listed in the PIC list of hazardous materials. The listing requires would-be exporters of asbestos to warn governments of developing nations on what is being brought to their countries. It was unbecoming of Canadian government to block the efforts to list it under the parochial influence of Quebec asbestos interests.

"The Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos." It has noted that "Asbestosis is yet another occupational disease of the Lungs which is on an increase under similar circumstances warranting concerted efforts of all stake holders to evolve strategies to curb this menace". A concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour revealed this at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” on 19th and 20th September, 2011. (http://www.labour.nic.in/lc/Background%20note.pdf)

Members of Indian National Congress led United Progressive Government, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs must act to make India free of carcinogenic asbestos fibers by paying heed to what Union Environment Ministry’s Vision Statement that says, “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. (http://moef.nic.in/divisions/cpoll/envhealth/visenvhealth.pdf) It should respond to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)‘s notice issued to it. NHRC issued a notice to the central and states government in the matter of incurable asbestos related diseases on July 6, 2011 and reiterated on June 5, 2012. (http://nhrc.nic.in/dispArchive.asp?fno=2334)

Government of India should also set up a compensation fund to provide compensation to the asbestos victims by making asbestos companies liable for knowingly exposing workers, consumers and citizens to asbestos fibers. It may be noted U.S., Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $2.2 billion in compensation fund to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of acquisition of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its Indian investments in 1999. If Dow can assume responsibility for asbestos-induced illnesses among victims in USA, why then it should deny responsibility towards the victims of Bhopal and its continuing toxic legacy. UCC formerly made products containing asbestos, and UCC once mined asbestos for sale to customers. The mine of the UCC was sold in 1985. Hundreds of thousands of people have sued asbestos companies that made products containing asbestos. Many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products are bankrupt as a result of asbestos litigation.

India has taken a position that it considers white asbestos as a hazardous substance. Mining of asbestos is technically banned in India. Trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibers) is also banned. Now government should take the next logical step and phase out asbestos use. Government of India should take immediate steps to ban this killer fiber to save the present and future citizens of the country from incurable lung diseases. After central ministries of environment, labour, mines and chemicals underlined the hazardous nature of asbestos and asbestos based products, ministry of railways has announced phasing out of asbestos based roofing materials from all the railway platforms in India.

It is noteworthy that a massive protest against an upcoming white asbestos based plant of Kolkata based Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) Industries Ltd at Goraul, Vaishali, Bihar on June 14, 2012 has forced the district administration to order stoppage of construction work till further orders. A tripartite meeting on June 30, 2012 with the asbestos company, villagers and the district officials failed to satisfy the villagers. TWA was present at the meeting. In the face of global, national and local movement against such plants which are referred to as Time Bombs for lungs, the construction of lung cancer causing white asbestos plants in Vaishali, Madhubani, West Champaran and production in Bhojpur districts only shows that Bihar Government has adopted Ostrich policy. Dr Barry Castleman's world's foremost expert on asbestos has sent a letter to Bihar Chief Minister asking to side with the villagers and not with the management of the asbestos factory to prevent public health disaster.

Earlier, Kerala State Human Rights Commission made three recommendations banning use of asbestos roofs in its order dated January 31, 2009. The recommendations are: “a) The State Government will replace asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. b) The Government will take steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. c) The Government should see that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs.” Notably, after 2 years of struggle of villagers and all the left and socialist parties in opposition, Bihar State Human Rights Commission announced that the white asbestos plant that was under construction in Chainpur-Bishunpur village, Jakhra Sheikh Panchyat, Marwan block of Muzaffarpur has now been wound up. All State Human Rights Commissions are likely to initiate steps to make their states asbestos free by taking cognisance of the above facts.

Not only in Bihar, villagers are protesting against the proposed hazardous asbestos cement roofing factory at Naagaon-Lebidi villages, Sohella Block, Bargarh district, Odisha. The company M/s Viswakarma Roofings Ltd. intends to establish 150,000 tonnes per annum of asbestos cement sheets manufacturing project. In Sambalpur’s Parmanpur village in Odisha too villagers are agitating against the hazardous asbestos based factory of Visaka Asbestos Industries. It is noteworthy that Visaka Industries was promoted as a joint venture between G Vivekanand (a Member of Parliament from Indian National Congress) and the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation.

Such hazardous plants are being protested against in other States like Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh as well. Environmental groups in Himachal are against the setting up of lung cancer causing asbestos based plant at Trilokpur Road in Kheri village of Nahan Tehsil in Sirmaur district. They are demanding asbestos free State. A fact finding team visited Ramco Asbestos Industries plant in Maksi, Madhya Pradesh in July 2011 and found that workers were working with Russian asbestos with any protection from the killer fibers of white asbestos. Another similar team visited four asbestos units near Vijayawada in August 2011 to take stock of the situation at the sites of Visakha Industries Limited, Jujjuru village, Veerulapadu Mandal, Krishna district, Hyderabad Industries Ltd, IDA in Kondapalli, Ramco Industries Ltd in Ibrahimpatnam and proposed factory site of Sahyadri Industries Ltd in Narasimharaopalem in Andhra Pradesh. The team found that villagers were never informed about the incurable diseases caused by exposure from asbestos fibers. The team interacted with former workers of asbestos factories. The workers informed that they were made to give written undertaking that the company will not be responsible for their health after they quit the job. Some of the members of the fact finding team like Dr Babu Rao, a Hyderabad based chemical scientist had raised objections at the public hearing of the asbestos plant of Sahyadri Industries Ltd which has been recorded in the official minutes on April 21, 2011. The team met a former worker who was sick from asbestos exposure near Visakha Asbestos plant at Jujjuru but he never got any treatment beyond routine medicines. Unmindful of human cost of such factories there was a public hearing for expansion of Visakha’s plant on June 6, 2012 amidst protest.

Unmindful of the epidemic of asbestos related diseases due to past exposure, new factories are coming up in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh (UP). In UP’s Raebarely, the white asbestos based plant of Visaka Industries reveals that business enterprises have misled political parties like Indian National Congress, the central and state government into ignoring ban on it by almost all the developed countries.

It is quite disturbing that asbestos cement based building materials are being used in the Union Rural Development Ministry’s Indira Awas Yojna. Central government’s Rs 10, 000 crore worth annual housing flagship scheme endangers the rural poor as it is using carcinogenic asbestos sheets to keep the cost below the ceiling of Rs 45,000 per house under the scheme.

Government of India should resist asbestos industry’s influence in public interest and desist from signing the "Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement" (CEPA) with Canada that allows the export of cancer causing Canadian asbestos to India. The New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, the official Opposition party has revealed the efforts of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper government’s to eliminate trade tariffs on exports of lethal Canadian asbestos to India. “It is a disgrace that the Harper government has opposed the global effort to ban this substance,” NDP said in a release dated December 5, 2011. (Reference:http://www.ndp.ca/press/harper-government-plans-to-increase-asbestos-exports-to-india)

TWA salutes the stance of NDP with regard to asbestos trade. Indian political parties like Indian National Congress should learn something from NDP. Government of India should pay heed to the World Health Assembly Resolution which requested WHO to carry out a global campaign for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases. The resolution of ILO in June 2006 stated, “the elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification and proper management of asbestos currently in place are the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future asbestos-related diseases and deaths." How can such glaring scientific and medical facts be ignored?

While it is quite alarming that Baljit Chadha, President, Montreal based Balcorp Ltd secured loan from Quebec government on June, 29, 2012 in the aftermath of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Stephen Harper on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Mexico. This appears to reveal the tremendous influence of Chrysotile asbestos cement products manufacturers association in India, global asbestos industry in general and Canadian asbestos industry in particular.

In 2011-12, union budget, the Finance Minister had announced that those affected by asbestos related diseases will be covered under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna. Given the fact that asbestos related diseases are preventable but incurable, this is hardly sufficient. The only way to prevent the deadly diseases is to prevent mining, trade, manufacturing and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos based products.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), 9818089660, E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com,Web:toxicswatch.blogpsot.com

Quebec government's uspport for white asbestos mine is support of death over life

The $58 million Quebec government assistance being given to develop a new asbestos mine in Quebec is outrageous. It will lead to public health disaster in countries like India where asbestos related diseases from past exposure is yet to be documented. This will add to the disease burden.

Quebec supports loan guarantee for Jeffrey Mine, with conditions
Economic Development minister Clement Gignac has announced that the province will grant a 58 million dollar loan guarantee for Jeffrey Mine to continue to produce crysotile asbestos, providing the company meets several conditions. We hear reactions from several people this morning. Luc Boileau is the CEO of the Institut National de Santé Publique. Bernard Coulombe is the president of the Jeffrey Mine. Gopal Krishna is an anti-asbestos activist in New Delhi, India. His views can be heard here:

http://www.cbc.ca/quebecam/2011/04/14/quebec-supports-loan-guarantee-for-jeffrey-mine-with-conditions/

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Vaishali Villagers Submit Scientific & Medical Evidence Against White Asbestos to District Administration

Press Note

Vaishali Villagers Submit Scientific & Medical Evidence Against White Asbestos to District Administration

Utakal Asbestos Company Fails To Satisfy Vaishali Villagers

Company Compares Lung Cancer Causing Fiber With Alcohol, Villagers Outraged


Vaishali/Patna/New Delhi, July 1, 2012: As per the order of District Magistrate (DM), Vaishali, Bihar in the matter of opposition to the proposed white asbestos based plant of Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) company, fifteen members of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangarsh Committee (KBJBJSC) comprising of villagers of Kanhauli Dhanraj Panchayat of Goraul block and representatives of the UAL met in the office of Sub Divisional Officer (SDO), Mahuwa, Vaishali on June 30, 2012 to discuss grievances against the hazardous plant. This tripartite meeting was necessitated by villagers Mahadharna of June 14, 2012 against the plant.

The committee members referred to the abstract of a paper titled ‘Asbestos-An Important Public Health Hazard’ published for the National Convention of Chemistry Teachers and National Seminar on “Emerging Trends in Green Chemistry during October 15-17 2011 that is recognized with a message from Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Bihar. In the abstract of paper, it is stated that as early as “In 1935 first time, Lynch Smith described a lung carcinoma in a patient with asbestosis (fibrosis of the lung caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust). A large number of clinical, epidemiological, and experimental studies established carcinogenic effect of different types of asbestos fibers on various tissues and organs, both in humans and in experimental animals. Inhalation is major source of exposure in humans.” It also noted that “its (asbestos) diffusion in the occupational and general environment causing a lot of health hazards even cancer.” This even was recognized by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as part of The International Year of Chemistry 2011. Villagers expressed the hope that the Chief Minister will take cognizance of the scientific facts which was brought to his attention from the chemistry teachers through the convention and seminar organized by Department of Chemistry, AN College, Patna.

This presentation of scientific facts by the committee made all the parties acknowledge the hazardous nature of the asbestos based factories. It is also recognized as one of the 64 heavily polluting industries under Red Category. In fact, commerce in asbestos waste (dust & fibers) is banned in India.

The villagers committee gave a 33 page written submission in Hindi to the DM through SDO with annexures comprising of scientific and medical opinions. Their submission is attached.
The villagers made the following demands:

1. Ensure permanent stay on the construction work of the fatal asbestos based factory
2. Initiate proper proceedings against the company by taking cognizance of their fake cases against villagers
3. Dismiss all fake cases registered against the leaders of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangarsh Committee, activists and villagers (Mahuwa Police Station, FIR No. 252/12)
4. Do not give permission to hazardous industries on agricultural land
5. Initiate proper proceedings against the company for misrepresenting facts in its Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report
6. Probe and initiate action those government officials who are colluding with owner of the factory

Their written submission concluded by saying that administration should save villagers from the hazardous factory instead of saving the poisonous factory.

Villagers explained how fake public hearing and faulty environmental clearnce happened by blatant factual misrepresentation. A total of 4 pages as against more than 300 pages of EIA were given to the villagers. The EIA report referred to agricultural land as barren land. When UAL representative and EIA consultant was asked to explain, the consultant replied that by barren he meant vacant land. He argued that Bihar Government does not stop factories in agricultural land.

On behalf the villagers’ committee, it was argued that a Union Labour Ministry document of September 2011 states, "The Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos." The inconsistency of the Union Environment and Forests Ministry was pointed out. Its vision documents recommends phase out of asbestos but at the same its Experts Appraisal Committee continues to give environmental clearances to white asbestos based factories.

It was unanimously agreed that white asbestos related diseases like Lung Cancer, Asbestosis and Mesothelioma referred to in the EIA report can only be prevented by preventing exposure to white asbestos. But the fact is that incurable diseases caused by the exposure to asbestos fibers can only be prevented if asbestos based factories are prevented from being set up. It was pointed out that Union Railway Ministry has decided to make all railway platforms in the country asbestos free. It was also pointed out that soldiers and policemen who live under asbestos roofs must be saved from its harmful effects as National Human Rights Commission has decided that keeping even inmates under such roofs is harmful and violation of human rights. Surely, our soldiers and policemen deserve to be treated better than prisoners. In fact, unlike China where prison labour is used for asbestos work, in a democracy, there is no justification for subjecting fellow citizens to asbestos exposure including prisoners.

The committee stated that 55 countries have banned use of asbestos. In the absence of environmental and occupational health infrastructure, the state governments should realize that health is a State subject and act to save the public health of its citizens.

There was a discussion about how the buildings of World Trade Center (WTC) which was shown in the advertisements of the global asbestos industry for its fire proof nature collapsed and liberated 5,000 tonnes of asbestos from sprayed asbestos fireproofing and asbestos floor tiles used in the twin towers. Sadly, WTC scrap contaminated with asbestos, PCBs, cadmium, mercury and dioxins was exported to India as part of about 70,000 tons of scrap before it was stopped following objections from environmental groups.

UAL representatives agreed that their plant will be using 100 % imported asbestos from asbestos mining countries like Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Brazil. It was admitted that in India, mining of all kinds of asbestos is banned including white asbestos.

UAL representative referred to WHO and ILO resolutions seeking elimination of future use of white asbestos as ‘accusations’ against the benign asbestos fibers and compared harmful effects of asbestos exposure to harm from drinking too much alcohol and road accident. This was emphatically rejected on behalf of committee of villagers as quite insensitive.

The consultant of the EIA report has admitted that “Construction site has a potential hazardous environment”. It also admits, “Asbestos fiber will be used in the plant as a raw material is hazardous in nature, the industry will give information to the workers on hazards associated with asbestos”. UAL failed to satisfy the villagers. Its own EIA report refers to protection and education of asbestos hazards to workers but villagers are not even mentioned.

It was argued by villagers committee that Bihar Government should pay heed to the recommendations of Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) in its order dated January 31, 2009. The recommendations are: a) The State Government will replace asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. b)

The Government will take steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. c) The Government should see that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs. These recommendations are relevant for Bihar as well.

Villagers referred to protest against the asbestos plant of Chennai based Ramco Industries at Bihiya, Bhojpur as they are facing water scarcity due to massive consumption of water by the plant. The news clippings from Bhojpur dated June 14, 15, 16, 2012 were shared with the district administration. In Bhojpur, the next protest meeting is planned on July 15, 2012.

The SDO, DSP, DSLR and all the participants present in the meeting were informed about how an ex-army person, Ram Agar Sharma, a native of Vaishali who is in the business of supplying security guards has revealed that most of the guards he supplied to asbestos factories in Rajasthan like Ankit Roofings, Jaipur became diseased. Therefore, he refuses to provide guards to asbestos based factories. It is a fact that migrant workers from Bihar are getting employed in hazardous industries like asbestos across the country without knowledge about disastrous health consequences for themselves and their family members because they carry hazardous materials like asbestos fibers on their clothes.

The Hindi Press Statement of villagers is attached. ToxicsWatch Alliance was present as part of the villagers committee to present facts from public health perspective as opposed to those doctored facts in pursuit of profit at any human and labour cost. Villagers await DM’s decision to plan the future course of action.
For Details
: Ajit Kr Singh, Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee (KBJBJC), Vaishali, Mb: 08002903995, E-mail: ajeetsinghpushkar@gmail.com
Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660, E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com Web:toxicswatch.blogspot.com, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

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