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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

WORLD SIKH ORGANIZATION AND OTHER SOUTH ASIAN BODIES MUST PRESSURE BALJIT CHADHA TO STOP
TRYING TO EXPORT CANCER-CAUSING ASBESTOS TO INDIA!


Asian Journal, Rattan Mall, editor, September 21, 2012

Baljit Chadha: Why does this man want to kill poor Indians with cancer-causing asbestos? AS reported in this newspaper last week, the federal government was forced to reverse its position on supporting export of the cancer-causing asbestos. Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis said the government will no longer oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention and that Ottawa would fork out $50 million to enable asbestos mine workers to retrain in other fields of work.
That was because Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government was put to shame by the Parti Quebecois boss Pauline Marois who so boldly took a principled stand against asbestos mining and exports during the election campaign (just the opposite of what that SPINELESS and UNPRINCIPLED then-Liberal Premier Jean Charest did) and still won the Quebec provincial election.
And, of course, 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) – couldn’t do anything about this!
What a disgrace!
While our BROWN brothers and sisters proved so impotent, it took a WHITE sister to show guts and kick the Conservatives’ (and the Quebec Liberals’) butt!
Marois has vowed to cancel the $58-million loan guarantee that Charest the LOSER had offered to restart Canada’s only asbestos mine.

NEWSPAPERS SLAM HARPER FOR HYPOCRISY
THE National Post newspaper had a dig at Harper in a story titled “It takes a Quebec separatist to close an asbestos mine.”
Kelly McParland noted bluntly: “It hurts, but it has to be said: Pauline Marois hasn’t even been sworn in as premier yet and she’s already shown more leadership and judgement on Quebec’s asbestos industry than any of her predecessors, or anyone in Ottawa.” She added: “Canadians wouldn’t go near a home built with asbestos. The health risks are real and widely known. For Canada to keep producing the stuff and selling it to less cautious industries in developing countries was unconscionable. That it was propped up by politicians for the sake of a few thousand votes in one Quebec community was obnoxious, to put it mildly.”
And Toronto Star’s David Olive pointed out: “Marois pledges to instead redirect those funds to the economic diversification of Asbestos [that is the name of the town where the asbestos mine is located] and nearby Thetford Mines, once the world’s biggest asbestos-producing region. And to no longer prop up a fading industry complicit in the ESTIMATED 107,000 DEATHS EACH YEAR from asbestos exposure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost all of the victims are in developing world countries.” [Capitalization mine for emphasis.]
Olive noted bluntly: “Canada’s hypocrisy on asbestos has long been malodorous. ... Harper has been spending MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to remove the last traces of asbestos in the Parliament Buildings and his official residence at 24 Sussex Drive. ... [U.S. President] Barack Obama’s start in public life was organizing public-housing residents in Chicago’s gritty South Side to successfully lobby City Hall to remove asbestos from their homes.”

BALJIT CHADHA’S DISGRACEFUL ROLE
IT sure makes me want to puke when I hear Canadians try to make fun of the Americans for this or that when we have been instrumental in KILLING SO MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE in developing countries, ESPECIALLY INDIA, even though we were fully aware of the deadly nature of asbestos!
We talk about preventing terrorism – what about OUR ASBESTOS TERRORISM all over the world all these decades?!
The 2008 figures for Canada’s asbestos exports show that ALMOST 43 PER CENT of that poisonous material worth $44 million went to India.
We have people like Kathleen Ruff, founder, RightOnCanada.ca and senior human-rights adviser with the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, to thank for relentlessly fighting against Canada mining and exporting asbestos.
On the other hand, we HANG OUR SOUTH ASIAN HEADS IN SHAME because of businessmen like BALJIT CHADHA.
Back in October 2011 in an article titled “Yes, Mr. Baljit Chadha, You Are Exporting Death To India – And Shame On You!” I wrote:
“It boggles my mind that Baljit Chadha, the man behind the DEADLY asbestos exports from Quebec to India, can be so SHAMELESS when it comes to making money that he actually claims that the cancer-causing material that is BANNED in Canada is safe! “ ... Chadha told the Globe and Mail newspaper in September: “I have done a lot of soul-searching on this and have come to a conclusion that we are not exporting death.”
“REALLY, Mr. Chadha?
“Do you REALLY believe that in spite of all the evidence out there – and which I will once again present to my readers here?
“The Globe and Mail said Chadha “combines an almost evangelical fervour for asbestos with the clout needed to pull off his controversial plan.”
“Mr. Chadha, I guess money can perform miracles!
“Chadha, in fact, was rebuked by Ivan Ivanov, the team leader of occupational health at the WHO Department of Public Health and Environment, this week for DISTORTING its position on the safety of asbestos.
“He told the Globe and Mail: “There is no safe threshold of exposure to all forms of asbestos.”
“He said WHO wants a stop to the use of all types of asbestos as the most efficient way to get rid of all asbestos-related diseases.
“Dr. Ivanov said: “Even very low levels can affect the cells and the genetic system of the body.” And he added: “The information about what the WHO considers as safe and not safe should come from WHO and not from the industry that is using the material.” “ ... Chadha needs to give his thick skull a REAL BIG SHAKE.”

WSO AND OTHERS MUST SPEAK UP
IN spite of all that has happened, it was extremely disturbing to read a Montreal Gazette report on Monday titled “It’s business as usual, asbestos company says” that said Balcorp Ltd., the company that received the $58-million loan, says that the mine will be relaunched next spring!
A company spokesperson told the newspaper: “The status remains unchanged as far as the mine is concerned.” He noted that Balcorp had already received at least $7 million of the loan.
So it seems that Baljit Chadha is hell-bent on going ahead with the cancer-causing terrorism!
This is where South Asian bodies such as the WORLD SIKH ORGANIZATION should step forward and OPENLY oppose Chadha’s move.
Otherwise, the WSO and all South Asian organizations will lose all MORAL authority with Canadians. Their pleas against this or that racist incident will be nothing but HYPOCRITICAL.
It is very easy to accuse the white guys of racism when they try to harm us, but what are we South Asians doing about our own BROWN guys trying to kill Indians in India?
Don’t you have any guts to speak out – or will you try to weasel your way out by making up some excuse or the other?
Remember, this is all about your credibility – once you lose it, no Canadian will take you seriously!
- RATTAN MALL EditorAsianJournal@gmail.com

http://www.asianjournal.ca/sep%2021_12/roar_1.html

The belated demise of Canada’s asbestos industry

Toronto Star, Published on Saturday September 22, 2012
Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS The Jeffrey open-pit asbestos mine in Asbestos Que. (Oct. 7, 2011)
Kathleen Ruff
In the space of three weeks, the political support the Quebec asbestos industry has enjoyed for decades from the Quebec and Canadian governments came crashing down.
It could hardly have been more politically dramatic or more financially devastating for the tottering, bankrupt Quebec asbestos industry. After 130 years in operation, the last two asbestos mines in Quebec — the Jeffrey mine in the town of Asbestos and the mine run by LAB Chrysotile at Thetford Mines — shut down more than a year ago in the face of catastrophic financial and environmental problems.
Both mines, however, clutched to hopes of resurrection, nurtured by a $58-million loan given to the Jeffrey mine by former premier Jean Charest just before he called the recent Quebec election, as well as by the undying political support that Prime Minister Stephen Harper swore to give to the asbestos industry during the 2011 federal election campaign.
Things fell apart for the asbestos industry when, near the end of the Quebec campaign, Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois promised to cancel Charest’s $58-million loan and instead give financial support to help the asbestos mining region diversify its economy. Asbestos is an industry of the past, Marois said, pointing to evidence put forward by Quebec’s own medical authorities that asbestos is deadly and should no longer be mined.
Three weeks later, on Sept. 14, before the new PQ government had even been sworn into office, the federal government put the final nail in the industry’s coffin. Christian Paradis, Harper’s Quebec lieutenant and the asbestos industry’s biggest cheerleader, announced — in his own riding of Thetford Mines — that Ottawa had concluded the industry was finished in Quebec and would provide $50 million for economic diversification instead of asbestos mining.
Paradis also announced that the government would cease blocking the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the UN Rotterdam Convention, as it has done since 2006.
It’s not often the Harper government backs down on any issue. No one should rejoice, however, that this sudden reversal might have been triggered by a new enlightened acceptance of scientific evidence or a desire to prevent further asbestos deaths. It was instead a cynical game of realpolitik.
Paradis accused Marois of destroying the economic well-being of the region by killing the asbestos industry. This delinquent act had forced the federal government to abandon its support of an industry that would no longer exist, he said.
Paradis did not mention that the industry had already closed down; that it had slashed wages and benefits of the last remaining workers to what the union president called “starvation wages”; that Quebec taxpayers are paying millions to clean up the environmental destruction caused by the industry; or that the industry has no hope of restarting without a massive injection of government funds.
The Harper government claims to be hard-headed on economic issues and to oppose government handouts. But Paradis omitted economic facts and instead sought to foment hostility against the new PQ government for destroying a supposedly viable industry.
Furthermore, Paradis denied the medical facts, repeating the sordid propaganda that asbestos can be safely used.
The Harper government is the only one in the western world that continues to deny scientific evidence on the threat asbestos poses to health. Not only people overseas, but also Canadians, are harmed by this denial. Health Canada puts out dangerous misinformation minimizing asbestos risk, and federal regulations permit exposure to asbestos fibres at a level 10 times higher than that permitted in other western countries.
The Canadian government allows asbestos-containing products, such as car brakes, construction materials, and even children’s toys, to be imported into Canada, thus putting Canadians at risk. Unlike other industrialized countries, Canada has no national program to protect citizens from asbestos harm.
Canada needs to join the more than 50 other countries that have banned the mining, use and export of asbestos. Until it does, Canadians will, often unknowingly, continue to be exposed to asbestos and many will die painful deaths as a consequence.
The decision by Paradis to stop supporting the asbestos industry was a humiliating reversal for the Harper government. It was, nevertheless, an excellent decision, even if made for the worst reasons.
The government will no longer prop up the asbestos industry. This is a historic victory ending decades of federal financial and political support for a deadly industry.
The battle to end the Harper government’s denial of scientific evidence and failure to protect Canadians from asbestos harm continues.

Kathleen Ruff is senior human rights adviser to the Rideau Institute and author of Exporting Harm: How Canada Markets Asbestos to the Developing World. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1260844--the-belated-demise-of-canada-s-asbestos-industry

Industry’s debasement tears the fibre from the town of Asbestos


INGRID PERITZ, The Globe and Mail, Sep. 22 2012 ASBESTOS, QUE. — The sign by the side of the highway is hard to miss: ASBESTOS. No, it’s not a health warning to motorists about hazardous material ahead.
It’s the name of a proud community in southern Quebec, waging a fight to survive in an increasingly lonely stand against the world.
Asbestos has become a mineral with a dubious reputation and a doubtful future, and its namesake town faces a similar fate. Medical experts link asbestos to cancer. Countries worldwide ban it and Canadians rip it out of their walls. And now, in the space of less than four weeks, formerly staunch political allies in Ottawa and Quebec City have abruptly jettisoned their support for the asbestos industry. A faded out sign signals the town of Asbestos, Quebec, in front of the Jeffrey mine, September 20, 2012.
In Pictures - A look at the town defined by an industry falling out of favour Yet here in the town that asbestos created, where a onetime miracle fibre made fortunes, built schools and enriched hard-working families, embattled residents defend asbestos the way a parent defends a misbehaving child. It’s theirs, they know it well, and there’s no way it can be as bad as everyone says.
“Go ahead, you can touch it,” Pierrette Théroux says as she shows off a chunk of asbestos displayed proudly on her desk. The president of the local historical society scoffs at the dire warnings about the white mineral. “Don’t worry, it won’t give you cancer. It won’t make you blind either.”
Asbestos is impossible to ignore in this Eastern Townships community of about 7,000, two hours’ drive east of Montreal. It defines the town’s landscape, its past and its very existence. The tailings from a century of mining have created fortress-like hills at the edge of town. The massive open-pit mine in the heart of the community is deep enough to swallow the Eiffel Tower; it’s an eerie place today, silent except for a desolate wind whistling through its maw.
Like virtually everyone in town, Ms. Théroux believes the worldwide campaign against asbestos is misguided. The mantra here is that the mineral is safe if handled properly.
“We’re treated like idiots because we defend chrysotile,” Ms. Théroux says, referring to the type of asbestos mined in Quebec. “On the contrary, we defend it because we know it.”
The belief is sincere, but it runs up against the harsh realities of the Third World exports on which the industry relies. To critics, shipping asbestos to developing countries that can’t ensure health safeguards amounts to a moral stain on Canada’s name.
Belatedly, political leaders seem to be coming around to the same view, displaying a sudden change of heart after years of unstinting support for the wobbly industry. Last week, federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis said Canada was dropping its long-standing opposition to asbestos’s inclusion on the list of hazardous materials under United Nations guidelines. The announcement came after Quebec Premier Pauline Marois pledged during last month’s election campaign to cancel a $58-million government loan to revive Asbestos’s Jeffrey Mine.
The one-two punch could permanently knock out Canada’s asbestos industry, the last vestiges of which are in Quebec. But officials in Asbestos are soldiering on defiantly, vowing to reopen the Jeffrey Mine and press their case with the new PQ government.
“If you want to invest in zero risk, that doesn’t exist,” Asbestos Mayor Hugues Grimard says. “What about cigarettes? Or cars, and planes? Are we going to ban those?”
Mr. Grimard welcomes government promises of financial help for Asbestos and nearby Thetford Mines to help diversify their economies, but, in the meantime, 500 jobs related to the asbestos industry hang in the balance, he says.
“I’m okay with minimizing risk, but we have the right to earn a living in Quebec,” the mayor says. “It’s the future of the region that we’re talking about – not just a company.”
Other towns in the world, saddled with a name associated with a life-threatening disease, might have changed it. Asbestos considered a name change but refused. “We’re proud of our history,” Mr. Grimard says. “It’s not by changing our name that we’ll change our identity.”
That identity was forged in the fibre whose resilience and fire resistance earned it the title of “white gold.” In the industry’s heyday, asbestos particles were so thick in town that a child like Gaston Bossé would write his name into the white layer of asbestos that had settled on his bedroom dresser each morning.
Mr. Bossé went on to work for 43 years in the local asbestos mill. About four years ago, he felt he couldn’t breathe; he was diagnosed with asbestosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling tiny asbestos particles.
Mr. Bossé remains an ardent supporter of asbestos mining nonetheless, and wants to see the mine resume operations.
“If I could, I’d return to work again today,” the 80-year-old says. As for asbestos’s detractors, “I think they’re crazy.”
Today, Asbestos is no longer the boom town that Mr. Bossé knew. It’s a place where working-age men like Jean-Guy Doyon, unemployed since he was laid off from the Jeffrey Mine, drinks coffee at the town shopping centre in the middle of the afternoon. “We are the Gaulois,” he said, comparing Asbestos residents to the ancient Gauls who stood up to the Romans. “We feel like we’re alone against the world.”
There were once 10 elementary schools in Asbestos. Now there are two. The population that once topped 10,000 has shrunk by a third. A nice home with a yard can be had for under $100,000, and seniors’ residences are taking over former grade schools. The town of Asbestos may have kept its name, but firms that deal with the outside world – like local trucking company Transport Asbestos Eastern – removed the word Asbestos from its name and trucks long ago.
The town of Asbestos hitched its fortunes to a maverick product, and a younger generation is already seeking its prospects elsewhere. On the sidewalk outside an adult-education school, young students taking a smoking break say they’re not sticking around Asbestos. “There are no more jobs here because they say asbestos is toxic. For me, it’s pretty much over,” says 18-year-old Alex Daudelin, who plans to look for work in the Northwest Territories or northern Quebec.
Maxime Blake, 24, says virtually his entire high-school class has left Asbestos. He says the mine served his grandfather well, with steady and well-paying work, and even if he’d like to see it return, today’s generation isn’t banking on its future. Mr. Blake, who’s expecting his second child this winter, is pursuing a career as a chef and plans to leave Asbestos.
“Asbestos is becoming a ghost town,” he said at the restaurant where he works as a cook.“Without the mine, there’s no future here.”
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/industrys-debasement-tears-the-fibre-from-the-town-of-asbestos/article4560402/

The Economist says, "Asbestos in Canada, Loved no more" but Indian Govt continues to Love it


Press Release
The Economist says, "Asbestos in Canada, Loved no more" but Indian Govt continues to Love it
Letters from Brazil, Canada, USA, Indian Movements seek ban on Asbestos in Quebec, Canada Bihar and Odisha on the anvil' amidst global call for ban
Governments of Bihar and Odisha should ban asbestos to protect public health to guide central govt
New Delhi: The Economist on September 21st 2012 observed, "Asbestos in Canada, Loved no more" after September 14th, 2012, "when the (Canadian) federal industry minister, Christian Paradis, said Canada would no longer block the inclusion of chrysotile on the Rotterdam Convention’s list. At first glance, giving up this particular fight changes little. Larger asbestos exporters such as Russia, Brazil, Kazakhstan or China, can still prevent a decision that requires unanimous consensus. However it is hugely symbolic within Canada, especially as it was accompanied by a promise to spend C$50m ($51m) in federal funds to help the towns of Thetford Mines and Asbestos diversify their economies. This was a clear signal to the two remaining mines, which are both closed, that the federal government can no longer be counted on for support."
It underlines, "The newly elected Parti Québécois (PQ) government in Quebec is already preparing to withdraw a lifeline offered to one of the mines by the former Liberal government of Jean Charest. Pauline Marois, the PQ premier, says she will not honour Mr Charest’s promised loan of C$58m to help restart the Jeffrey Mine, which employed 250 people before it closed in 2011. NEWCO Opérations Black Lake, which in 2009 closed its mine near Thetford Mines, employing 350, entered bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Mr Paradis, who is also the local MP, pointed to Ms Marois’s move, rather than any second thoughts about health effects, as the trigger for his actions. “Our region will have to live with the consequences of Ms Marois’s decision,” he said."
Till recently asbestos meant something different in French Quebec than in English Canada “Because in English it means slow, hacking death”. Now both Canadian federal and provincial governments have abandoned the blind cause of asbestos industry, the naked lust for profit at the cost of human life too will have to be abandoned.
Two contradictory things but related things have unfolded in Quebec and Bihar this September. The campaign against asbestos plant in Bihar’s Vaishali reached a critical moment with the District Magistrate of Vaishali informing the villagers that the construction of Utkal Asbestos company's factory which was temporarily stopped following villagers' bitter resistance is now going to be allowed. With the victory of Pauline Marois led newly-elected Parti Québécois (PQ), the Quebec government is all set to stop supporting the asbestos mining in Canada which has been exporting it to countries such as India.
Central government should now communicate unambiguously to the Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird who is currently visiting New Delhi for talks with SM Krishna, Union External Affairs Minister that India having disassociated from Canada in UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the issue of listing chrysotile asbestos ((white asbestos)) as a hazardous substance is going to take the next logical step of banning it.
World renowned occupational and environmental health experts and leaders of global ant-asbestos movement have written to both Bihar Government and Quebec government to stop commercial activities in asbestos. It is evident across the world that asbestos industry is surviving because of help from Indian government’s help. New Quebec government can pave the way for Indian government and Bihar government to extricate itself from promoting a lung cancer causing asbestos industry.
Taking note of the proposed asbestos based plant in Vaishali, Lyle Hargrove, Chair, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), Canada wrote to Bihar Government saying, "We have inter-disciplinary teams of occupational physicians, nurses and hygienists in clinics across Ontario, Canada. We have had the unfortunate duty to help thousands of Ontario workers, and often their surviving family members, with asbestos disease, including lung cancer and mesothelioma (a terrible cancer of the lung lining which only comes from asbestos exposure). It has now reached the stage where we have around 500 new asbestos cancer cases in Ontario every year. So we have learned a terrible lesson here in Canada and are urgently concerned about the potential for the same to be visited upon you in India."
He added, "I am writing at this time to urge you to stop the Vaishali project. I can assure you from our Ontario experience that no form of asbestos is safe – all cause cancer. Our strict protections under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against exposure to asbestos do not make any distinction between types of asbestos. And it is the same with our statutory presumption of work-relatedness of mesothelioma under our Workplace Safety and Insurance Act." The letter is attached
In her letter to Bihar Chief Minister, Fernanda Giannasi, who is known as Erin Bronkovich of Brazil informed him that besides some 66 countries, “5 states of Brazilian Federation have already approved laws that prohibit the uses of asbestos. Other states are debating to adopt the same decision.” She is a very famous labor inspector since 1983 for the Regional Labor and Employment Superintendence Ministry of Labor and Employment, São Paulo, Brazil.
She added, “For almost 30 years, I have inspected industrial plants in my state of São Paulo where 172 companies declared using asbestos, out of which 170 have already changed the technology for asbestos-free enforcing the state law and we have followed all these changes and respective improvements for the worker’s safety and health and of course for the general public health.”
Fernanda Giannasi underlined, “A vast medical literature produced over the course of the 20th century sustains the thesis that there is no safe way to work with asbestos or use products that contain it, and that the best way to eliminate diseases caused by this mineral fiber is to ban it...I must inform you that asbestos is not just a problem for workers who are exposed to its microscopic and lethal fibers. It can indiscriminately affect the families of these workers, people living near mines and industrial facilities where asbestos is produced or handled, and consumers...The so-called controlled use of asbestos defended by the IBC is not realistic neither in developed countries nor in developing and emerging economies like ours in IBSA. It is an abstraction without any representation in the reality of our workplaces. I urge you to use your influence to make IBSA region asbestos free and factor in South Africa’s decision to ban asbestos in your decision making…Therefore, it is reasonable to ask you to halt the construction of the manufacturing unit of asbestos based products in Vaishali and elsewhere Bihar and India to protect Indian workers, villagers and citizens as well of as worldwide population.” The letter is attached
The logical step of making India-Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) region asbestos free is indisputable. Taking cognizance of threats to life and public health; more than 50 countries have banned production, use, manufacture and trade of the hazardous mineral fiber, ASBESTOS. These countries are: Algeria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Malta, Seychelles, Argentina, Denmark, Ireland, Mozambique, Slovakia, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia, Italy, New Caledonia, South Africa, Bahrain, Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Jordan, Oman, Sweden, Brunei, Gabon, South Korea, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Kuwait, Portugal, Turkey, Chile, Greece, Latvia, Qatar, United Kingdom, Croatia, Honduras, Lithuania, Romania, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg and Saudi Arabia. All the 27 countries of European Union have banned it.
On August 15 August, 2012 news came from Australia that an Australian importer has recalled 23,000 cars made by China's Great Wall Motor Co Ltd and Chery Automobile Co after deadly asbestos fibres were found in engines and exhaust gaskets. The importer, Ateco Automotive has been asked by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to replace affected components in the cars. Dealers have also been asked to stop selling the asbestos laden cars. The news report ‘23,000 China-made cars recalled in Oz for asbestos parts’ is attached.
Besides mining of asbestos of all kinds, trade in asbestos waste (dust & fibers) is banned in India. In June 1993, central government stopped the renewal of existing mining leases of asbestos. The mining activity was banned by Union Ministry of Mines. It is strange that while mining of asbestos is banned in our country due to adverse health impact, the same is being imported from Russia, Canada and other countries. It may be noted that Canada has a no home use policy and it is investing to decontaminate its built environment of asbestos.
According to a Fact sheet No.343 of World Health Organisation (WHO) titled ‘Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases’ dated July 2010, “All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans, and may cause mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary. Asbestos exposure is also responsible for other diseases, such as asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), pleural plaques, thickening and effusions.” The harmful effects of asbestos of all kinds have been established conclusively.
Both International Labour Organization (ILO) and WHO recognize that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos, replace asbestos with safer substitutes, take measures to prevent exposure to asbestos in place and during asbestos removal and improve early diagnosis, treatment, social and medical rehabilitation of asbestos-related diseases and to establish registries of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos. ILO also passed a resolution seeking elimination of future usage of asbestos of all forms in June 2006. How can such glaring scientific and medical facts be ignored?
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) 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. But so far only the States of Mizoram, Nagaland and the National Institute of Occupational Health Ahmedabad have submitted the reports. NHRC’s intervention has been sought for a ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos, which is hazardous for the health of people and causes various incurable diseases. While Government has rightly banned mining of asbestos, yet it allowed its import and that too from the countries like Canada which did not prefer its domestic use.
Unmindful of such developments in the world and within the country, it appears that Ministry of Commerce is unable to 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 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.
Following protests in Odisha’s Visaka asbestos plant in Parmanpur village of Sambalpur, the plant has been stopped. Prior to it pitched villagers’ battle against Bihar’s Muzaffarpur plant in Chainpur-Bishunpur village ensured that it is wound up. Agitation against similar plants is underway in Odisha’s Bargarh in Naagaon-Lebidi villages of Sohella Block and Bihar’s Chaksultan Rampur Rajdhari near Panapur in Kanhauli Dhanraj Panchayat of Goraul block in Vaishali.
In a letter to Vaishali District Magistrate, Jitendra Srivastava, Dr Barry Castleman, globally recognized foremost authority on medical and legal aspects of asbestos, who has worked with WHO, World Bank and Pan American Health Organisation, wrote, “Strong local opposition to the construction of the asbestos plant in Vaishali is supported by the official statements of the World Health Orgainsation, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Bank calling for an end to asbestos products use…Even the World Trade Organisation has supported national asbestos bans and rejected arguments for ‘controlled use of asbestos’ as unrealistic.” In his letter, Dr Castleman mentions, ‘At a hearing in Brasilia on August 31, 2012, the public prosecutor excoriated the asbestos industry as purely profit-oriented, saying that vast liabilities had been created and left for society to pay; he closed by saying the export of asbestos to poor Asian countries was “environmental racism”.’ The letter is attached Vaishali District Magistrate has been sent letters from Canada, Brazil and citizens movement groups like Indian Social Action Forum and National Alliance for Peoples Movements. The letters are attached
In his ‘Testimony for the Brazilian Supreme Court’, Prof. Benedetto Terracini (retd), Cancer Epidemiology, University of Torino Italy observed that there is only propaganda in defense of the immoral continuing production, trade and use of asbestos and strongly criticized asbestos industry’s junk science. It high time India stopped procuring raw asbestos fibers from asbestos producers like Russia’s Ural Asbestos Mining & Ore Dressing Company, the world's largest manufacturer. It should rescind its asbestos trade related agreements with Canada, Kazakhstan and Brazil. In view of the above facts, immediate steps are required to ban use and manufacture of asbestos and stop construction of asbestos based factories in all the states. Notably, UN headquarters has been decontaminated of asbestos besides Canadian House of Commons. It is about time Indian buildings like its legislatures, courts, schools, hospitals etc also became asbestos free.
Victorious Quebec leader Pauline Marois has confirmed the commitment by promising to cancel the loan and instead invest the money in economic diversification for the asbestos-producing region. Bihar government and central government cannot shy away anymore.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)-Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660, Email: krishna1715@gmail.com Web: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

It was PQ, not Conservatives, that killed asbestos


Sarnia Observer,September 20, 2012 Sir: Quebec’s new Premier Pauline Marois will cancel loans for the asbestos industry and in so doing has shamed the federal Conservatives into reversing their long standing support of asbestos mining and its export.
The federal Industry minister simply says it would be “illogical” to continue to oppose the inclusion of asbestos on the global list of hazardous substances when Quebec will now stop asbestos mining.
The federal government will finally support the listing of asbestos as a hazardous substance not because it kills people, not because its use has been banned in Canada for years, not to save lives and prevent disease abroad, but because we’ve stopped producing it!
The Harper Conservatives just doesn’t get it. When finally doing the right thing, they do it for the wrong reason. Even before officially taking office as premier Madame Marois has achieved what our local MP Pat Davidson would not, or could not, do since she was first elected in 2006.
Joe Viola
Bright's Grove http://www.theobserver.ca/2012/09/20/it-was-pq-not-conservatives-that-killed-asbestos

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Canada yet to ban export of deadly fiber to India but has been forced to list white asbestos as hazardous substance

Press Statement

Canada yet to ban export of deadly fiber to India but has been forced to list white asbestos as hazardous substance

India must stop procurement of asbestos from China, Canada, Russia, Zimbabwe & Kazakhstan

Ministries of Commerce and Rural Development must learn from Ministries of Labor, Chemicals, Environment, Health, Mines and Railways who are for phase out of asbestos


New Delhi, 18/9/2012: After Canadian government’s announcement that it will stop objecting to the listing of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) as a dangerous material under the U.N.’s Rotterdam Convention on exports of hazardous materials, Government of India and the State Governments are under an ethical and logical obligation, backed by indisputable scientific and medical evidence, to close down asbestos industry and stop the construction of asbestos plants in Bihar, Odisha and elsewhere in the country to protect the health of citizens, workers and their families. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) welcome the Canadian announcement and encourages it to stop continued exports of Canadian asbestos to countries like India.

Canadian Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced that the Canadian government will no longer oppose global rules that restrict use and shipment of the substance and promised to invest up to $50 million to help the country's last remaining asbestos mining region, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, to diversify into other areas of activity. This movement towards asbestos free activity is a result of the political isolation being faced by the ruling Conservative Party which had previously blocked the chrysotile form of asbestos from being listed under the convention on three occasions, most recently at a summit in 2011 in Switzerland. The convention requires consensus of its members to list a substance; five other forms of asbestos are already listed as hazardous. The announcement was made on September 14, 2012.

This decision of the Canadian government after the meeting of John Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada with SM Krishna, Union Minister of External Affairs on September 12, 2012 assumes significance given the fact that it happened in the context of bilateral framework agreements like the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and the Social Security Agreement besides agreements for mining etc. Earlier, it had emerged that Union Ministry of Commerce is unable to 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 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.

Disregarding the regressive influence of asbestos producers like Canada, China, Russia, Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan, Indian government should act to make South Asia and the India-Brazil- South Africa (IBSA) region countries asbestos free. Notably, South Africa has already banned asbestos and several States in Brazil too have banned it.

BANI and TWA recognize that Canadian government was forced by Quebec premier-elect Pauline Marois who has vowed to cancel a $58-million loan guarantee offered by the previous government to revive Canada’s only remaining asbestos mine which has created victims in the developing world countries.

Under the changed political situation, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is scheduled to visit India in November 2012 has now agreed to join global consensus that considers asbestos as a hazardous substance. In any case in the last UN meeting of Rotterdam Convention after India disassociated itself from Canadian government, it was facing isolation and belittling its own stature among the comity of nations through its hypocrisy on asbestos.

It is about time Indian government banned the domestic uses of asbestos and invested in removal of asbestos from public buildings such as legislative buildings, hospitals, schools, homes and workplaces.

The global public opinion and the domestic opinion is against asbestos business creating a political compulsion for both in Canada and India to read the red signal for the end of the chrysotile business and for prohibiting its import and export.

Unsuspecting citizens and workers in India have been forced to work with this hazardous substance whose dangers have been kept hidden from them.

The next logical step for Canada is to provide household income to victims of Canadian asbestos in India because it continued to export in full knowledge that it is likely to cause incurable lung diseases. Central and State Governments in India are also under a legal obligation to ensure that both occupational and non-occupational victims of asbestos exposure get legal and medical remedy.

More than 50 countries have banned production, use, manufacture and trade of the hazardous mineral fiber, ASBESTOS. These countries are: Algeria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Malta, Seychelles, Argentina, Denmark, Ireland, Mozambique, Slovakia, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia, Italy, New Caledonia, South Africa, Bahrain, Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Jordan, Oman, Sweden, Brunei, Gabon, South Korea, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Kuwait, Portugal, Turkey, Chile, Greece, Latvia, Qatar, United Kingdom, Croatia, Honduras, Lithuania, Romania, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg and Saudi Arabia. All the 27 countries of European Union have banned it.

Meanwhile, villagers’ protest against asbestos factories in Bihar’s Bhojpur and Vaishali and Odisha’s Bargarh district is continuing seeking stoppage of asbestos factories.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)-ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660 Web: banasbestosindia.blogspot.com


Canada tosses in the towel on asbestos

By Canadian Press
THETFORD MINES, Que. – The Canadian government has tossed in the towel and will stop fighting international efforts to list asbestos as a hazardous substance, striking another blow to a once-mighty domestic industry that is now on the verge of extinction.

The announcement was made Friday by Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who hails from the asbestos belt and is one of the industry’s staunchest defenders.

He said the government will no longer oppose efforts to include asbestos to the UN’s Rotterdam treaty on hazardous materials.

Paradis looked glum and spoke in a nearly hushed tone during the announcement. He cast the move as inevitable, given the growing opposition to the industry. Two of the parties in the Quebec legislature, including the new Parti Quebecois government, have called exports of the substance immoral given its links to cancer.

The PQ has said it will cancel a $58 million loan, promised by the previous Liberal provincial government, that was supposed to reopen what would be the country’s last asbestos mine.

Paradis blamed the PQ for the turn of events.

“First off I’d like to remind you that Pauline Marois, the premier-designate of Quebec, has clearly stated her intention to forbid chrysotile exploitation in Quebec,” Paradis said in his opening remarks.

“Obviously that decision will have a negative impact on the prosperity of our regions…

“In the meantime hundreds of workers in our region are without jobs, are living in uncertainty and hoping the mine will reopen… Madame Marois has clearly made her decision. So our government has made a decision that it’s now time to look after our communities, workers and families.”

Paradis promised that the Harper government would spend up to $50 million to help the region diversify its economy. He made the announcement next to the mayor of Thetford Mines.

The mayor expressed disappointment in recent events and thanked the federal government for helping to make the best of a bad situation.

Sep 14, 2012
http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/09/14/canada-tosses-in-the-towel-on-asbestos-2/

Right thing to do is ban extraction of asbestos

Toronto Star, By David Olive Business Columnist, September 17, 2012
The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) was too generous last Friday in lauding Ottawa’s announcement that day that Canada will stop objecting to the listing of asbestos as a dangerous material under the U.N.’s Rotterdam Convention on exports of hazardous materials.

“Canada has a moral obligation, backed by well-grounded evidence, to close down this [industry] and stop exporting a potentially hazardous material to countries that are ill-equipped to protect the health of workers who handle asbestos fibres,” said Erica Di Ruggiero, chair of the CPHA.

“The Government of Canada has made a good public health decision,” she said.

Ottawa has done no such thing. There is nothing to stop continued exports of Canadian asbestos

The feds’ hands were forced by Quebec premier-elect Pauline Marois, who in the closing days of the recent Quebec general election, vowed to cancel a $58-million loan guarantee offered by the Charest government to revive Canada’s sole asbestos mine, in the Eastern Townships community of Asbestos.

Marois pledges to instead redirect those funds to the economic diversification of Asbestos and nearby Thetford Mines, once the world’s biggest asbestos-producing region. And to no longer prop up a fading industry complicit in the estimated 107,000 deaths each year from asbestos exposure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost all of the victims are in developing world countries.

Stephen Harper, who as recently as the 2011 federal election, reserved one of his few Quebec campaign stops for an Asbestos appearance in which he bellowed that he would not abide dictates from abroad on asbestos exports, will now, he says, invest as much as $50 million in Ottawa’s own economic diversification of the region.

Harper is following Marois’ lead, in an effort that should have begun three decades ago when the global consensus emerged that there simply is no “safe” way of extracting or using asbestos.

Canada’s hypocrisy on asbestos has long been malodorous. Like almost all advanced countries, Canada has banned most domestic uses of asbestos, whose fire-retardant properties are greatly outweighed by its carcinogenic ones. Harper has been spending millions of dollars to remove the last traces of asbestos in the Parliament Buildings and his official residence at 24 Sussex Drive. That’s a lamented and inevitable extension of the multibillion-dollar effort across North America and Europe over past decades to remove asbestos from tens of thousands of schools, homes and workplaces. Barack Obama’s start in public life was organizing public-housing residents in Chicago’s gritty South Side to successfully lobby City Hall to remove asbestos from their homes.

As to the Rotterdam Convention – to date, the entirety of Ottawa’s “good public health decision” on this issue – the veto power of any other asbestos producer, including China, Russia, Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan, can be relied upon to keep asbestos off the Rotterdam list absent Canada’s past objections.

Besides, the Convention requires only that asbestos exports be labelled with hazardous-materials warnings and safe-handling instructions. That practice has already been adopted. But studies of Canadian asbestos use abroad, notably in major buyer India, show that construction workers handling asbestos are seldom provided gloves and other protective gear. And that workers with Grade 2-level education, paid $6 a day, cannot read the instructions on the sacks of asbestos that routinely break open, releasing clouds of asbestosis-causing disease - though often they do recognize the red maple leaf on the sacks as a symbol of Canada.

“Inclusion of chrysotile [the Canadian industry’s new euphemism for the “white” asbestos extracted here] in the Rotterdam Convention would in no way signal the end of the chrysotile business in Canada,” Guy Versailles, a spokesman for the Jeffrey Mine that was to have received the $58-million loan guarantee, said Friday.

“It does not say, ‘prohibit imports and exports,’” Versailles told Maclean’s.

Chuck Strahl, the former Harper cabinet minister whose career progress was cut short by a diagnosis of cancer related to asbestos exposure as a young man working in B.C.’s forest industry, calls Friday’s decision by Ottawa “the moral thing to do.”

Not so. The ethically right thing to do is ban the extraction of Canadian asbestos, for which alternatives have long been available. And to finance asbestos-related health programs in developing-world markets where people have been forced to work with a substance whose dangers they were kept in the dark about.

The right and proper thing to do extends to supplementing the household income of victims of Canadian asbestos who have lost their breadwinner through lengthy, dangerous contact with a carcinogen we continued to export in full knowledge it likely would be used without sufficient heed to safety.

Strahl, who quietly campaigned in caucus against his own government’s previous success in thwarting the Rotterdam Convention, is right in identifying Canada’s moral obligation.

But we remain far from meeting it.

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1257705--right-thing-to-do-is-ban-extraction-of-asbestos-olive

We Must Not Forget the Residents of Asbestos

RightOnCanada.ca, September 17, 2012

The town of Asbestos has been a single industry asbestos-mining town for over a century. Some efforts at economic diversification have been made in the past, but sadly have failed. It is an economically and psychologically depressed area, with its population having shrunk, house prices dropped and local businesses, like restaurants, having closed down. The town is afraid that it will become a ghost town, as has the town of Cassiar in British Columbia, which was also a single industry asbestos-mining town. The people of Asbestos do not believe that there will be successful economic diversification of the town.

The health defenders in Quebec and elsewhere (for example, the Canadian Cancer Society, the trade union movement and the Position Statement on Asbestos of the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology), who have called for an end to asbestos mining, have also always called for just transition assistance to be provided to the asbestos mining region. However, the residents of Asbestos believe that these are just nice but empty words and that the town will die if asbestos mining ends. This is the background situation and it is important to be aware of it. No-one should be indifferent to their plight, which is a real one.

Let us hope that, with the support and financing of the Quebec and Canadian governments, there will be a successful transition to sustainable, healthy economic development in the area, so that the town will not only survive but thrive.

Kathleen Ruff, founder RightonCanada.ca
Letter: Residents of Asbestos have gone from hope to despair

Letter, Montreal Gazette September 17, 2012 http://www.montrealgazette.com/Letter+Residents+Asbestos+have+gone+from+hope+despair/7254811/story.html#ixzz26km9tnRj

Those who doubted that there would be any changes following our Sept. 4 provincial election results have been proved wrong. Case in point, asbestos.

On June 29, he Charest government promised a $58-million loan to Jeffery Mine to keep that asbestos mine in operation. On Aug. 29, candidate Pauline Marois, promised, if elected, to cancel the loan and set up public hearings to examine the future for the town of Asbestos, where Jeffery is located. On Sept. 14, a few days before Marois is to assume the premiership of Quebec, federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced that Canada will no longer oppose asbestos being placed on a hazardous material list, thereby ending our country’s support for that industry, and effectively dealing a death blow to Mine Jeffery Inc.

Did Marois cause Canada to abruptly change its position on asbestos? Or, did Canada take advantage of Marois’s position to conveniently withdraw from our country’s unpopular support of the asbestos industry?

Whatever the answers are, within less than two months, the residents of Asbestos have gone from hope to despair, environmentalists, opposing our promotion of the asbestos industry, have gone from repeated failure to immediate success, and Marois, even before her being sworn in, has achieved apparent success but may be ultimately blamed for the Ottawa decision.

That is change.

Robert Marcogliese

Montreal

It takes a Quebec separatist to close an asbestos mine

National Post, Kelly McParland, Sep 17, 2012
It hurts, but it has to be said: Pauline Marois hasn’t even been sworn in as premier yet and she’s already shown more leadership and judgement on Quebec’s asbestos industry than any of her predecessors, or anyone in Ottawa.

Marois pledged during the provincial election campaign to revoke a $58 million loan offered by Premier Jean Charest to Canada’s last asbestos mine. She knew hat cancelling the money would mean the death of the industry, but went ahead anyway. And kudos to her. Asbestos has been banned or heavily restricted in much of the world. Canadians wouldn’t go near a home built with asbestos. The health risks are real and widely known. For Canada to keep producing the stuff and selling it to less cautious industries in developing countries was unconscionable. That it was propped up by politicians for the sake of a few thousand votes in one Quebec community was obnoxious, to put it mildly.

“Shock waves circled the globe in minutes as news that 130 years of Canadian asbestos mining and lucrative asbestos export business to Asia, the USA, and other countries would end,” reported the Urban Times. I suspect that’s not quite true. It takes quite a bit to send shock waves around the world, and one lousy mine closing in Quebec isn’t at that level.

But the federal Tories aren’t ready to admit they were wrong in sticking by the mine. Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who was born in Thetford Mines, was right there promising to spend $50 million in the region to help diversify its economy.

“In the meantime hundreds of workers in our region are without jobs, are living in uncertainty and hoping the mine will reopen,” he moaned.

His concern would be more impressive if, like the PQ, he’d taken a more principled stand and helped shut the mine years ago.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/17/it-takes-a-quebec-separatist-to-close-an-asbestos-mine/

Canada won't oppose asbestos limits

Federal Tories reverse course and won't veto substance's listing in Rotterdam Convention
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
CBC News

The Jeffrey mine in Quebec's Eastern Townships had mostly shut down by 2010 but was to be revived with a $58-million loan from the Quebec government. It is looking more and more likely that Canada's last remaining asbestos operation will never resume. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Canada's dying asbestos industry was dealt another blow Friday from one of its former friends, with Industry Minister Christian Paradis announcing that the federal government will no longer oppose global rules that restrict use and shipment of the substance.
In an announcement in Thetford Mines, Que., where he took several shots at the province's new Parti Québécois government, Paradis said his Conservatives are reversing course and won't use their veto to stop chrysotile asbestos from being listed as a hazardous substance under the international Rotterdam Convention.
Paradis also said Ottawa will invest up to $50 million to help the country's last remaining asbestos mining region, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, to diversify into other areas of activity.
The government had previously blocked the chrysotile form of asbestos from being listed under the convention on three occasions, most recently at a summit last year in Switzerland. The convention requires consensus of its members to list a substance; five other forms of asbestos are already covered by it.
Asbestos production in Quebec has been de facto shut down for the last couple years, but the outgoing Liberal provincial government was loaning $58 million to a company to restart its chrysotile mining and export operations.

The incoming Parti Québécois provincial government has promised to cancel the loan, and suggested it would ban asbestos production and exports outright.
The federal government's stance, however, has been that "we promote the safe and controlled use of chrysotile."
Paradis basically blamed incoming Quebec Premier Pauline Marois for forcing Ottawa's hand, saying Friday that Marois "has clearly indicated her intention to ban the production of chrysotile in Quebec. Evidently this action will have a negative impact on the future prosperity of our region."
The PQ, though, has repeatedly pledged to take the $58 million from cancelling the loan to the Jeffrey asbestos mine and put it toward economic diversification in the area. Reopening the mine would have put 400 to 500 employees back to work.
Convention imposes disclosure rules
As recently as 2010, Canada was producing 150,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, all of it in Quebec, and exporting 90 per cent — worth about $90 million — to developing countries. More than 50 countries ban the mining and use of asbestos because it causes cancer. But Canada, traditionally a major exporter, has successfully lobbied to keep it off the Rotterdam list, putting it in the company of Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which also opposed the move.
A listing in the convention forces exporting countries to warn recipients of restrictions and bans on a substance, to label their exports and to handle substances in controlled ways. A party to the convention also has the right to ban imports of any listed substance.
"It does create bureaucratic hurdles that do not exist at this time, and in international trade, an unnecessary bureaucratic hurdle just becomes a trade barrier," said Guy Versailles, a spokesperson for the consortium behind the Jeffrey mine.
Versailles said the company was disappointed by Paradis's announcement, but insisted that it's not the death knell of the asbestos industry and that talk of the consortium's $58-million lifeline getting revoked is mere speculation.
"This in no way signals the end of chrysotile in Quebec," he said. "The Jeffrey mine has kept going ahead as planned to reopen the mine."
A second operation, the Lac d'Amiante mine in Thetford Mines, declared bankruptcy late last year. Employees there have been pushing for a return to work, but the company would have to gain access to new deposits of the mineral to have anything to extract.
Major killer
Three of the four major parties in Quebec's recent election campaign vowed to shut down the industry in the province. The Canadian Cancer Society and the Quebec Medical Association have also denounced the plan to reopen the Jeffrey mine.
The cancer society said Friday that the federal government made the "right decision" in withdrawing its opposition to listing chrysotile asbestos as hazardous; the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Public Health Association concurred.
"This is an important first step," the cancer society's vice-president, Paul Lapierre, said in a news release."It's imperative that the health of people around the world be put ahead of the interests of the asbestos industry."
The World Health Organization says 107,000 people around the world die annually from ongoing workplace exposure to asbestos. It is still used in many developing countries in everything from roofing tiles to cement pipes and boiler insulation, and even Canada imported $2.6 million worth of asbestos brake pads last year.
Federal Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair noted that the NDP has long wanted asbestos on the Rotterdam Convention list.
"It's taken time," he said. "I was the first Quebec politician to come out clearly against the mining and export of asbestos. There was no safe use."
Needle-like asbestos fibres were once considered magic minerals. They were woven into clothes, building insulation and coffee pots. They were even mixed with children's play dough. In its heyday, the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Que., was the biggest open-pit asbestos mine in the world.
Then, starting in the late 1960s and '70s, study upon study began linking asbestos to voracious diseases such as lung cancer, scarred lungs (asbestosis) and mesothelioma, a cancer of the stomach and chest that is only caused by exposure to asbestos.
Posted: Sep 14, 2012 3:26 PM ET
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2012 10:19 PM ET
For complete story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/09/14/montreal-canada-thetford-mines-asbestos.html

Monday, September 17, 2012

Environmentalist writes to CM, wants to make city asbestos-free

A Delhi-based environmentalist has written to chief minister Sheila Dikshit highlighting the harmful effects of asbestos.

Though the city government has banned abestos roofs in new schools, the ban has
not been extended to other buildings or products, the letter said.

“Nearly all vehicles in Delhi are laden with asbestos-based components. There is no building in Delhi which is asbestos free. I submit that given the fact that health is a state subject, you can immediately initiate steps to stop procurement of all asbestos-based products to safeguard public health of residents,” said the letter written last week by Gopal Krishna, convenor of ToxicsWatchAlliance.

Krishna said the government can set an example in preventing harm to environment and health due to asbestos use.

“Delhi has the potential to become the first asbestos free state in South Asia. More than 50 countries have banned production, use, manufacture and trade of the asbestos because of threats to life and public health,” said Krishna.

He said India should stop getting raw asbestos fibres from Russia’s Ural Asbestos Mining and Ore Dressing Company, considered the world’s largest manufacturer, and cancel its asbestos trade agreements with Canada, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
According to health experts, asbestos-related diseases include lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the ovary and larynx.

Krishna asked the government to start prevention efforts with the help of a country-specific “national programmes for elimination of asbestos-related diseases” in line with International Labour Organisation and World Health Organisation guidelines.

The National Human Rights Commission had issued notices to the state government on July 6, 2011 and a statement on June 5, 2012 alleging that the city government has not filed its status report on victims of diseases caused by asbestos
in the Capital, despite reminders.

While protests in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali in Bihar have led to closure of asbestos factories there, plants in Madhubani, West Champaran and production of the material in Bhojpur districts are facing resistance.

Villagers are protesting against proposed asbestos cement roofing factories in Sambalpur and Bargarh district of Odisha, due to which the Sambalpur plant has been halted. Protests against asbestos factories in Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are also on.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/277890/environmentalist-writes-cm-wants-make.html

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Letter from Women of Koodankulam

From

The Women of Koodankulam
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
Idinthakarai
Thirunelveli District
Tamil Nadu

Dear Sister,

We hope this letter finds you well. We are sure that you would have liked to hear the same from us. But today, we cannot say that even to fool you or fool this moment in history.Things are not fine with us anymore here in Idinthakarai, Tsunami Rehabilitation Colony, Koodankulam, Koottapuli, Perumanal, Koottapana, Manappad and so on. The situation in Thoothukudy where our friends fasted inside the Church in support became tense after we lost a dear brother. How can we say we feel good?

Today morning, a sister from nearby Tsunami colony was arrested as she got out of her house. We miss the unifying presence of Xavieramma, the quick and efficient Sundari and the slight Selvi who have been taken to a destination that is unknown. Our homes painstakingly built up with hard earned money and effort have been broken down, with utensils and almirahs thrown out and trampled upon. Many of us are not able to go back there and evaluate what has been lost or destroyed. Our friend Inita was hurt badly. So too, many children. The worst part is the fear that now fills the eyes of our small ones. As all this was happening, many of us were paralysed by the cries of the tiny tots whom we had to carry, drag and run in the sand.

We hear that 60 of our friends from Koodankulam are in jail somewhere. It seems improbable that 20 men who were undergoing treatment for injuries in hospitals have not come back home after being discharged, but that is the truth. We have no drinking water supply since 48 hours and electric supply is intermittent. We are on a 48 hour fast too. The friends from Thoothukudy are ready to bring us rice and other provisions, but they have not been able to reach us because of road blocks. Our children have not gone to school. They have not been bathed or fed properly since the 9th evening. We feel uncomfortable and scared to go to our own homes. Have you ever had that feeling?

Now we are sitting and sleeping in the comfort of each other and the security of the Samara pandal which has been our second home for over an year. But for how long?

Many would say we brought it on ourselves and have no right to complain. But what other way did we have? To agree to the commissioning of the Koodankulam Power Plant? After knowing that it will spew 50 trillion Becquerels of radio nuclides every year into the air and discharge 70 tons of water at temperatures varying between 36- 45 degree centigrade? Would you have felt good to be one of the 2000 living less than 900 metres away from the Plant? After seeing the Fukushima disaster and images from Chernobyl, how could we agree to all this just close by? Many say we have been brainwashed and misled. Yes, ignorance is bliss. But not in this case. We are glad to be informed and to know with clarity about what could be in store for us. This alone has empowered us and strengthened our resolve not to allow the commissioning of the Nuclear Plant.

We hear that instead of immediately withdrawing the police force and initiating a decent dialogue with us, many were talking about the foreign funds and the poor illiterate people that we are supposed to be. At this stage at least when we are back to the wall, please do not refer to us so. We have built up this movement with our daily toil. We are proud of this. We are not afraid of hard, honest work as long as the sea and land is there.

We reiterate our earlier request and demands even now:

1.Please intervene and stop all police force in and around the villages. We do not intend to commit any violence. We know that violence begets violence. We value our life and peace.

2. Please stop the commissioning of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant immediately after engaging in a dialogue with us. We know that it is unsafe and the energy so produced is uneconomical and unnecessary.

3. Please engage in a national level talk on other sources of energy that are in surplus in our country.

4. Release all our friends and family arrested and kept in jails / withdraw all false cases against them.

5. Please ensure that we would be able to live in our homes without fear and that basic amenities like water and electricity will not be disrupted.

Do have the boldness and honesty to come here and see for yourself the beauty and simplicity of our lives. This is the time we need you. Please break the barricades and hindrances that have been created and walk in fearlessly to see us here. Please act and intervene as fast as possible. We cannot afford to lose one more life, scare one more child, break one more house anymore….

Do stand by truth, justice and womanhood

September 12, 2012

regards

Usha

The situation in Koodamkulam is really terrible. My friend who translated this letter request all of us to gather support to this struggle

Former Army Chief of India Supports Protests Against Nuclear Power Plant

Message of Support from former Army Chief of India to S P Udaykumar

Dear Udayakumar,

I fully endorse what Shri Devasahayam and Admiral have said. It is sad that despite known dangers and severe protests the nuclear power plant is being operationalised.

It is sad to see that instead of improving the transmission and distribution losses the govt is fooling people by bringing in a system being phased out by rest of the world.

I fully express my solidarity with the people and request the powers that be
to reconsider their decision.

Gen V K Singh

Former Chief of the Naval Staff Writes to PM on unwarranted police excesses at Koodankulam

Admiral L Ramdas, (retd)
PVSM,AVSM,VrC,VSM
Former Chief of the Naval Staff
Magsaysay Awardee for Peace

Lara-Ramu Farm,
BhaimalaGaon, PO Kamarle,
Alibag-402209, RaigadDist
Maharashtra
02141-248711/0-9860170960
Sept 11 2012

Dr Man Mohan Singh
Prime Minister

My Dear Prime Minister,

KOODANKULAM

I am troubling you once again Mr Prime Minister to voice my concerns regarding the shocking developments and unwarranted police excesses at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu over the past 48 hours.

As Law and Order is the primary responsibility of the State Government, I have highlighted the need for terminating police excesses in my letter sent yesterday to Kum Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and copied to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Delhi. This letter is addressed to you in your capacity as Prime Minister of this Country responsible for matters of Internal Security and also as the Minister responsible for the Department of Atomic Energy.

In the above context, I would also like to raise serious concerns regarding Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Power pathway planned for our country. I have written to you on several occasions about this and related concerns and whilst I have received the token acknowledgement from your secretariat, alas it has not gone beyond that.

The Prime Minister will also recall that about five years ago, my wife, Lalita Ramdas and I, had called on you and suggested that you might consider setting up task forces in our IITs to evolve suitable Renewable Energy technologies to meet our varied anticipated power demands. We had also volunteered to work with you to prepare a potential CARBON FREE AND NUCLEAR FREE ENERGY ROAD MAP FOR INDIA. Once again, for reasons best known to you, the Government chose to follow the dictates of voices which said that if India was to grow ,”There is No Alternative” [TINA factor?] but to go down the nuclear energy and coal power road.

This has meant inevitably large scale requirement of land, displacement of peoples, and the natural fears about nuclear plants, made more real and urgent after Fukushima last year. Many of us had anticipated the kind of developments that have taken place at Koodankulam yesterday, and now it has actually come to pass. Despite many committees, delegations and visits to Koodankulam including that of the former President Dr Abdul Kalam, their assurances regarding the safety of the plant have clearly not been convincing. Alas, even to this day, neither the local authorities, nor the` experts’ ever attempted to meet or speak with the people in Idinthakkarai to allay their fears and seriously address their concerns.

A decision by the High Court in Chennai to authorise the NPCIL to go ahead and load the fuel rods, does not over-ride the right of appeal before the Supreme Court, which action is currently in progress. Therefore any attempt to fuel KKNPP and operationalize the same, would be denying the people their basic right to appeal to the next higher judicial body.

The forcible action by the Tami Nadu police yesterday, to break up a peaceful protest staged on the beaches of Koodankulam was unnecessary. The entire drama was presented in the Electronic media for the whole world to see as it unfolded. Women and children were especially targeted by an almost overwhelming police presence, fully armed with modern weapons and equipment against an unarmed, peaceful and non-violent gathering of protesters, mainly belonging to the fishing community. Surely we cannot take seriously the allegations of the police that they were `trapped’by fishing nets and hit by sticks – the real time images speak for themselves.

Furthermore we have learned that the police marched in force through Idinthakkarai while the community were at the Rally, and in their absence, broke into many homes uninvited, vandalised, ransacked and left many homes in disarray. Worst of all, we are told that the 200 year old Church, on the renovation of which considerable money was spent by contributions from the fishing folk, has been desecrated and vandalised – including the breaking of a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Prime Minister, I have stayed in Koodankulam two or three times, and have visited and admired this beautiful church, and am therefore speaking from personal knowledge because I am being constantly updated on the current tragic events from many of the friends whom I have met on my visits.

Coming to the crucial question of liability, you as the Prime Minister have rightly raised the critical question as to who will bear the cost in the event of accidents to Units 3 and 4 at Koodankulam? Surely an accident can also happen to Units 1 and 2? If the reactors were so safe as claimed and pronounced by no less than Dr Abdul Kalam, and others including the scientists from the expert committee of the Govt, why are the Russians shying away from committing to the Nuclear Liability Agreement?When no less than the Prime Minister himself has concerns regarding the liability question , it is but natural that the well informed fishing communities in the vicinity, are exercised over this, and many other concerns of theirs, including the right to life and livelihood.

The immediate way ahead as I see it is:

Restore all basic needs of the people mainly water, power, milk and food and freedom of movement.
Release all those who have been detained by the police.
Restrain police from seeking out the leadership of the movement to whom credit is indeed due for a sustained, peaceful and democratic protest in the best Gandhian traditions.
Facilitate a discussion quickly with the leadership of the movement IN Idinthakkarai ,to allay their fears and address their concerns regarding safety of the power plant.
Implement the 17 or more safety measures recommended for KKNPP by the government expert committee set up after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. The AERB has acted prematurely in clearing loading of fuel, before these safety measures have been implemented .
Review and implement the recommendations of the CAG report on the performance of the existing AERB.
Expedite legislative action to make the AERB an independent authority as promised by the Government.

In view of the foregoing, I would strongly urge the Honourable Prime Minister to declare a Moratorium on operationalising KKNPP and all future proposed additions of nuclear power plants in the country.There are enough alternative renewable energy resources in the country which can more than meet our developmental needs – including growth rate.
I have served the nation in uniform for forty four years and nine months – from Cadet to Chief of the Navy, and am proud of all the country’s achievements . At the same time I am distressed about many policy decisions which have not gone right. Being retired now for almost two decades, I have seen a steady erosion of ethics and values in all areas of our democracy. Recently I had written to you about concerns regarding the Indian Armed Forces. Upholding of Human Rights, and the preservation of Peace and Democracy, has been my primary concern during my retirement.

I have witnessed the hazards of nuclear energy from close quarters, both in and out of uniform, and have no doubt in my mind that we need to find safe, abundant renewable energy to meet our developmental goals. Fortunately technologies are now available , especially solar, which are both cost effective and feasible.

I have no doubt that you will give this matter your personal attention and act on the recommendations with urgency.

Sincerely Yours,

With Warm Regards,
L. Ramdas

Cc:
Kum J Jayalalitha
Chief Minister, Tamil

make Western Ghats nuclear free

Western Ghats Forum cannot act like NERO when the struggle to make Western Ghats nuclear free for future generations is gathering momentum.

The issue of preventing a potential Fukushima like disaster is very much an issue of conservation and restoration of ecosystem.

The children are quite up to date they know that countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, Spain and several others are opposed to nuclear power.

It is germane to recollect that while giving testimony to parliamentary standing committee on science, technology, environment and forests on the subject of Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, the then secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, K Sujata Rao mentioned that "Since the response system to deal with any kind of emergency of such type, the hospitals are not well-equipped, it is natural that mortality and morbidity due to multiple burn, blasts, radiation injuries and psycho-social impact could be on very high scale and medical tackling of such a large emergency could have enough repercussions in the nearby areas of radioactive fallout."

She also mentioned that in the entire bill, there is not a single clause which speaks about taking healthcare during radiological emergencies. It reflects only about payment of compensation due to health impacts of such radiation. She suggested while setting up nuclear plants consideration may also be given to the fact that there should be hospital having trained doctors near such establishments and arrangements should also be made for free treatment of people who are affected by serious nuclear fallout." She confessed that her ministry is nowhere to meet an eventuality that may arise out of nuclear and radiological emergencies.
Is it the case that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is wiser than Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa? It is high time Atomic Energy Act, 1962 is scrapped. It is caught in a 1940s time warp.

Dr. V. Maitreyan, an oncologist, former Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests and currently Member, Rajya Sabha from AIADMK was trained by Dr. Robert Peter Gale, the world renowned medical oncologist who did bone marrow transplants on the Chernobyl nuclear accident victims. In his speech on 30th August, 2010 in the Parliament he quoted Dr. Robert Peter Gale book "Final Warning -- The Legacy of Chernobyl" saying nuclear accidents happen, "In sum, accidents happen. This is why the nuclear industry continues to insist upon laws limiting its liability for damages arising out of nuclear accidents". At the conclusion of the Chapter, Dr. Gale says: "As for Chernobyl, it may be that the greatest contributions made at Hospital Number 6 were not the lives saved but the lives lost. For the failure to save lives demonstrated how deadly nuclear power can be and how helpless the world is when radiation rages wild. In the end, we all live near Chernobyl, " he quoted.

I had appeared before this committee to give testimony. At least 8 union secretaries expressed reservations against the nuclear plant. They also revealed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee that they were not consulted in drafting the bill. Parliamentary Committee's report is available on web.

Why has AIDMK and Dr. V. Maitreyan pretending forgetfulness about their own wisdom. It appears that there are some non-state actors behind the nuclear power projects which are bigger than the democratically elected governments.

Please find below Dr. V. Maitreyan's recent question to PM in Parliament and the answer of JUNIOR MINISTER FOR PERSONNEL, PUBLIC GRIEVANCES & PENSIONS AND PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, V. NARAYANASAMY.. Even children can easily see through the sophistry of the minister's reply.

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
DEPARTMENT OF ATOMIC ENERGY
RAJYA SABHA
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.2017
TO BE ANSWERED ON 30.08.2012

FACILITIES FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCIES NEAR NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
2017. DR. V. MAITREYAN:

Will the PRIME MINISTER be pleased to state:
(a) whether there is adequate preparedness for medical emergencies in the vicinity of the nuclear power plants in the country;

(b) if so, the details thereof;

(c) the details of hospitals with haematology laboratories, bone-marrow bank, immunology laboratories etc. near nuclear plants; and

(d) the steps taken/being taken by Government to provide these facilities in the vicinity of all nuclear power plants in the country?

ANSWER
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR PERSONNEL, PUBLIC GRIEVANCES & PENSIONS AND PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE (SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY) :

(a)&(b) Yes, Sir. Medical services to cater to general health and occupational health related injuries are available at all nuclear power plants. In addition, there are district hospitals/public health centers and private medical services available in the vicinity of nuclear power plant sites. The medical and para-medical professionals of these hospitals are trained and retrained periodically in attending to medical emergencies.

(c) In addition to the medical services available at the nuclear power plants, empanelment with super-speciality hospitals in the nearby towns/villages are also in place. Hematology laboratories are available at most of the Government/private hospitals, primary health centres and nursing homes, while Immunology laboratories, bone marrow banks and other specialised services are available at the super-speciality hospitals.

(d) Health care has been one of the focus areas of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Free medical services are being extended to the people living in the vicinity of nuclear power plants through mobile clinics and health centres. The scope of health care facilities to surrounding population around nuclear power plants is being further enhanced.

IS OUR UNION HEALTHY SECRETARY LYING OR THE PMO MINISTER? WHO DO U TRUST? IS THERE A CHOICE?

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

Marois takes ethical stand on asbestos

Montreal Gazette, Letters, September 11, 2012
Re: “PQ expected to live up to promise to end asbestos production” (Gazette, Sept. 6)

Bravo to Premier-designate Pauline Marois for taking the moral and ethical stand in declaring that her party will not proceed with the asbestos mine opening project.

People all over the world will applaud this decision (not to export cancer) and Canadians know that this action reflects our values.

By when can we expect an official declaration from her government that the “loan” of $58 million has been cancelled or invested otherwise?

S. Chawla

LaSalle
Montreal Gazette, Letters,
September 11, 2012
http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Letter+Marois+takes+ethical+stand+asbestos/7223416/story.html#ixzz26Btv8tu2

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shattering the conventional wisdom on asbestos

If political strategists have any capacity for introspection, they should be asking themselves some serious questions about the Parti Québécois’ late-innings promise to cancel a $58-million government loan to the Jeffrey Mine in the Estrie, and to end all exports of chrysotile asbestos from Quebec.

Objectively, this is a no-brainer. The industry is paltry; exports in 2011 amounted to just $41-million, or 0.07% of Quebec’s total. Even in the town of Asbestos, it employs an insignificant fraction of the population.

For that meagre payoff, Canada gets a black eye on the world stage by joining Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan in opposing even the addition of warning labels to exports: In June, Postmedia news obtained a briefing memo to Environment Minister Peter Kent indicating that the government had in the past “acknowledged all criteria for the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the [Rotterdam] Convention [on hazardous substances] have been met,” but it nevertheless continues to oppose its addition.

Some continue to insist that chrysotile can be used safely. But the conclusively and disturbingly documented fact is that in the developing nations that buy the bulk of Quebec’s asbestos — notably India — it is not used safely. This isn’t akin to the seal hunt, opposition to which is mostly based on a hypocritical affinity for cuddly animals; or the oil sands, without which Canada would instantaneously become a much poorer nation. The only reason for politicians to prop up the asbestos industry, or even allow it to continue, is that the Big Book of Conventional Wisdom says they have to, or else suffer the wrath of Quebecers.

If the asbestos industry was centred in northern Alberta, every federal party would long ago have thrown it under the bus. And yet the federal Tories and (at least until recently) Bloc Québécois remain staunchly in its favour. The Liberals under Michael Ignatieff finally took against it — presumably that position still holds — but only after Mr. Ignatieff twisted and squirmed and equivocated, no doubt fearing further humiliations in the party’s former Quebec stronghold.

If anyone had bothered to look, they would have discovered a January 2011 Léger Marketing poll that found 76% of Quebecers opposed to the $58-million loan guarantee (which outgoing premier Jean Charest later sweetened to an outright loan), and 65% opposed to the industry in general. Then the New Democrats went out and swept Quebec with a platform that was totally anti-asbestos. And then Ms. Marois, who exemplifies the sort of reactionary, “maîtres chez nous” mentality that strategists seem to fear, promised to kill the industry as an explicit, last-minute election promise. And now she is premier-elect.

The conventional wisdom on asbestos, which hasn’t made any sense for many years, has been shattered. And we are forced to wonder how many other traditional third-rail issues might now safely be touched. Supply management in the dairy industry — the further enrichment of a few wealthy dairy farmers in a few ridings, at the expense of every non-vegan Canadian and the nation’s free-trading reputation — comes immediately to mind.

National Post Editorial Board | Sep 10, 2012
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/10/national-post-editorial-board-shattering-the-conventional-wisdom-on-asbestos/

Sunday, September 9, 2012

NEW QUEBEC PREMIER PAULINE MAROIS WANTS TO STOP KILLING INDIANS WITH ASBESTOS

NEW QUEBEC PREMIER PAULINE MAROIS WANTS TO STOP KILLING INDIANS WITH ASBESTOS – UNLIKE FORMER PREMIER AND PRIME MINISTER

Asian Journal, September 7, 2012 http://www.asianjournal.ca/sep%207_12/roar_2.html

1 Pauline Marois

IT’S good that Quebeckers kicked out that shameless man who was all out to KILL MORE POOR INDIANS in a horrible way by encouraging the export of CANCER-CAUSING asbestos from Quebec to India in spite of protests and appeals by every respectable medical expert and health organization in the world.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest got his butt kicked good and proper by Parti Quebecois boss Pauline Marois. Charest even lost his own seat! What a pathetic character!

In my August 17 column, I wrote: “No decent Quebecer should vote for the Liberal Party in the September 4 provincial election because Premier Jean Charest has disgraced himself by providing a loan of $58 million to reopen the province’s asbestos mine.
“And like the typical OPPORTUNISTIC politician, Charest did that ONLY for votes as he knew he was soon going to call an election. It didn’t matter how IMMORAL that policy was. 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.”

“That cancer-causing asbestos has killed countless poor Indians in India already and now South Asian businessman BALJIT CHADHA (Montreal Gazette reported that Chadha and Jeffrey Mine President Bernard Coulombe are now co-owners of a new company called Mineral Fibre Inc. which owns the Jeffrey Mine) is ready to do his demonic part to KILL more Indians.

2 Jean Charest

“And then we South Asians have the nerve to accuse white guys of racism for every little thing!

“But thank God there are decent WHITE politicians out there who want to end this MASS MURDER of poor Indians.”

KATHLEEN Ruff, senior human-rights adviser with the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, in an email this week, noted: “The PQ have promised to cancel the loan to Jeffrey mine once elected and to hold a parliamentary commission to try to work with the residents of the asbestos mining area to develop alternative economic initiatives for the region.

“The Liberal Party has done much better than was predicted and will clearly oppose cancelling the loan to Jeffrey mine. The third party, the CAQ, has taken a position in support of banning asbestos. However, they said that, if elected, they would not cancel the loan to Jeffrey mine. QS were the first Quebec political party to take a position calling for a ban on asbestos.

“It will clearly be more difficult for the PQ to implement its agenda on any issue, if it is a minority government. However, it should be able to go ahead and cancel the loan to Jeffrey mine.”

So let’s wait and see how things go down.

But decent people, especially Indians, all around the world will be rejoicing that Charest got his big fat butt kicked real good!

3 Baljit Chadha

EVEN as Charest was humiliated this week, there was good news of MORE fierce opposition to the immoral asbestos trade.

The Union for the International Control of Cancer (UICC), which comprises more than 700 member organisations in 155 countries, in a position statement declared that it:

1. Calls for a global ban on the mining, use, and export of all forms of asbestos;
2. Calls specifically on all asbestos exporting countries to respect the right to health by ceasing the mining, use, and export of asbestos, and providing transition assistance to their asbestos-mining communities;
3. Calls specifically on the all asbestos-using countries to cease use of asbestos;
4. Urges all countries that have used asbestos to inform their citizens and their healthcare professionals of the hazards of asbestos and to implement safety measures to monitor the health of citizens who are likely to have been exposed at any point in their lives. To facilitate this, an inventory of asbestos already in place is needed, particularly in schools and places where children are present.

AND in Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said asbestos remained a silent killer and the Australian government’s announcement that it would establish a new agency to deal with this hazard at the joint ACTU-Cancer Council Australia summit in Sydney, showed it took the issue seriously.

He noted: “About 600 Australians are dying from asbestos-related diseases each year, including increasing numbers who inadvertently breathed in asbestos fibres during home renovation projects.”

“Although asbestos was banned almost a decade ago, Australians are concerned that it remains a major health hazard in the community, and unions are determined that the removal of asbestos by 2030 remains on the public agenda.

He also noted: “Australia has the highest rate of mesothelioma deaths in the world and experts predict this will worsen in the future, with the rise of home renovations.

“Unions have long been calling for the safe removal of asbestos by 2030, starting with Government buildings, and for an audit of its existence in residential properties built before production ended in 1987. The trail of asbestos leaves a grim legacy and today’s Summit is an important discussion about how to end it.”

(For more on the ASBESTOS controversy, please visit website www.AsianJounral.ca and type in “asbestos” in the Google search box.)

RATTAN MALL
EditorAsianJournal@gmail.com

http://www.asianjournal.ca/sep%207_12/roar_2.html

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Consequences of procurement and use of lung cancer causing asbestos based products

To

Chief Minister
Government of NCT of Delhi
Delhi

Subject-Consequences of procurement and use of lung cancer causing asbestos based products

Madam,

With reference to my previous letters, the notice of NHRC sent to Chief Secretary, Delhi Government and New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of Asbestos from India, this is to draw your urgent attention towards the news report 'Chinese car maker Chery announces Brazil recall of 12,500 vehicles for asbestos' (Washington Post, August 30, 2012) revealing recall of cars sold after asbestos was found in engine and exhaust gaskets by Chery International, a Chinese automaker. This follows ban on entry of China-made cars containing incurable cancer causing asbestos in its structure in Australia. Australia is one of the 53 countries that have banned the import of asbestos. India is yet to ban it. Almost all the vehicles in Delhi are laden with asbestos based components. There is no building in Delhi which is asbestos free.

I submit that given the fact that health is State subject, you can immediately initiate steps to stop procurement of all asbestos based products to safeguard public health of residents of the national capital. Delhi government can pave the way for the whole country to follow its example in the field of prevention of adverse environmental health effects. Delhi has the potential to become the first asbestos free state in South Asia.

I submit that NHRC issued a notice to State Government on July 6, 2011 and it issued a statement on June 5, 2012 revealing that Delhi Government has not filed its status report on victims of asbestos in Delhi despite reminders. The NHRC has asked the State to Govt explain as to why asbestos should not be banned.

I submit that taking cognizance of threats to life and public health; more than 50 countries have banned production, use, manufacture and trade of the hazardous mineral fiber, ASBESTOS. These countries are: Algeria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Malta, Seychelles, Argentina, Denmark, Ireland, Mozambique, Slovakia, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia, Italy, New Caledonia, South Africa, Bahrain, Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Jordan, Oman, Sweden, Brunei, Gabon, South Korea, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Kuwait, Portugal, Turkey, Chile, Greece, Latvia, Qatar, United Kingdom, Croatia, Honduras, Lithuania, Romania, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg and Saudi Arabia. All the 27 countries of European Union have banned it.

I wish to inform you that on August 15 August, 2012 news came from Australia that an Australian importer has recalled 23,000 cars made by China's Great Wall Motor Co Ltd and Chery Automobile Co after deadly asbestos fibres were found in engines and exhaust gaskets. The importer, Ateco Automotive has been asked by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to replace affected components in the cars. Dealers have also been asked to stop selling the asbestos laden cars.

I submit that this news is quite relevant to our country because disregarding disastrous public health consequences, trade, manufacture and consumption of asbestos based products is rising at an alarming rate due to fiscal incentives of the central government since 1982.

I submit that the World Health Assembly Resolution on cancer prevention has urged the countries to pay special attention to cancers for which avoidable exposure is a factor, including exposure to chemicals at the workplace. The World Health Assembly has requested WHO to carry out a global campaign for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases. WHO Resolution is aimed at eliminating asbestos-related diseases is particularly targeted at countries still using chrysotile asbestos, in addition to assistance in relation to exposures arising from historical use of all forms of asbestos.

I submit that besides mining of asbestos of all kinds, trade in asbestos waste (dust & fibers) is banned in India. In June 1993, central government stopped the renewal of existing mining leases of asbestos. The mining activity was banned by Union Ministry of Mines. It is strange that while mining of asbestos is banned in our country due to adverse health impact, the same is being imported from Russia, Canada and other countries. It may be noted that Canada has a no home use policy and it is investing to decontaminate its built environment of asbestos.

I submit that UN headquarters has been decontaminated of asbestos besides Canadian House of Commons. It is about time Indian buildings like its legislatures, courts, schools, hospitals etc also became asbestos free.

I submit that the term asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. The principal forms of asbestos are chrysotile (white asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). Other forms are amosite, anthophylite, tremolite and actinolite. It is noteworthy that chrysotile asbestos represents 100% of the global asbestos trade.

I submit that according to a Fact sheet No.343 of World Health Organisation (WHO) titled ‘Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases’ dated July 2010, “All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans, and may cause mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary. Asbestos exposure is also responsible for other diseases, such as asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), pleural plaques, thickening and effusions.” The harmful effects of asbestos of all kinds have been established conclusively.

I submit that the Indian Mines Ministry has consistently informed the Parliament that “In view of the hazardous effect of asbestos mining on health, the Government has decided not to grant any new lease for mining of asbestos and minerals found along with asbestos. It does not renew the existing mining leases of asbestos. In view of the deleterious effect of asbestos mining on the health of the workers, the government has ordered the State governments in 1986 not to grant any new mining lease for asbestos (including chrysotile variety) in the country.

It is noteworthy that in 1995, Supreme Court of India held that “The development of the carcinogenic risk due to asbestos or any other carcinogenic agent does not require continuous exposure. The cancer risk does not cease when the exposure to the carcinogenic agent ceases, but rather the individual carries the increased risk for the remaining years of life. The exposure to asbestos and the resultant long tragic chain of adverse medical, legal and societal consequences, reminds the legal and social responsibility of the employer or producer not to endanger the workmen or the community or the society. He or it is not absolved of the inherent responsibility to the exposed workmen or the society at large. They have the responsibility-legal, moral and social to provide protective measures to the workmen and to the public or all those who are exposed to the harmful consequences of their products. Mere adoption of regulations for the enforcement has no real meaning and efficiency without professional, industrial and governmental resources and legal and moral determination to implement such regulations.”

I submit that unmindful of this asbestos has become so widespread in the country that on December 9, 2009 even President’s helicopter hit an abandoned asbestos roof.

I submit that it high time India stopped procuring raw asbestos fibers from Russia’s Ural Asbestos Mining & Ore Dressing Company, the world's largest manufacturer. It should rescind its asbestos trade related agreements with Canada, Kazakhstan and Brazil.

I submit that public health experts and environmental and occupational health specialists have argued for long that asbestos should be buried not people. The continued use of asbestos in India is bound to lead to a public health disaster of asbestos-related illness and premature death for decades to come. This will be repeating the epidemic that is witnessed today in developed countries that used asbestos in the past.

I submit that both International Labour Organization (ILO) and WHO recognize that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos, replace asbestos with safer substitutes, take measures to prevent exposure to asbestos in place and during asbestos removal and improve early diagnosis, treatment, social and medical rehabilitation of asbestos-related diseases and to establish registries of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos. ILO also passed a resolution seeking elimination of future usage of asbestos of all forms in June 2006. How can such glaring scientific and medical facts be ignored?

I submit that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) 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. But so far only the States of Mizoram, Nagaland and the National Institute of Occupational Health Ahmedabad have submitted the reports. NHRC’s intervention has been sought for a ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos), which is hazardous for the health of people and causes various incurable diseases. While Government has rightly banned mining of asbestos, yet it allowed its import and that too from the countries like Canada which did not prefer its domestic use.

I submit that unmindful of such developments in the world and within the country, it appears that Ministry of Commerce is unable to 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 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.

I submit that Quebec provincial government’s $58 million subsidy to re-open the Jeffrey asbestos mine reveals that asbestos traders remain callous towards the public health crises that has emerged due to asbestos exposure. Jeffrey mine plans to export 200,000 tonnes of asbestos annually to Asian countries including India for the next 25 to 50 years.

I submit that Québec's Medical and Health authorities are also opposed to this asbestos mining project. Their call on the Québec government to stop the mining and export of asbestos has been ignored.

I submit that besides WHO and ILO the International Trade Union Confederation that represents 176 million workers in 151 countries have called for an end to the use of all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos.

I submit that asbestos is claiming more than 100,000-150,000 cancer deaths a year worldwide.

I submit that while Canadian government is spending millions of dollars to remove chrysotile and other forms of asbestos from public buildings. This removal is underway even in Quebec’s schools, hospitals and buildings in order to protect the lives of the Quebec people.

I submit that Central Governments and State Governments should resist the tremendous influence of Chrysotile asbestos cement products manufacturers association in India, global asbestos industry in general and Canadian asbestos industry in particular. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs besides Planning Commission and State Governments need to coordinate efforts to eliminate asbestos and asbestos based products from the country.

I submit that the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) has called for a global ban on the mining, sale and use of all forms of asbestos and the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.

I submit that there is 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.

I submit that Delhi Government has banned use of asbestos roofs for new schools but sadly the same has not been extended to other buildings and products. In the meanwhile 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.

I submit that villagers are protesting against the proposed hazardous asbestos cement roofing factories in Sambalpur and Bargarh district of Odisha. As a result the Sambalpur plant has been stopped. Protests against asbestos factories in states like Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh is also going on.

I wish to draw your attention towards the recommendations of Kerala State Human Rights Commission. It 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.” All State Human Rights Commissions ought to initiate steps to make their states asbestos free by adopting it.

In such a scenario, 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 should put a stay on use of such hazardous building materials and adopt alternative materials for both rural and urban housing schemes like Rajiv Awas Yojna. A NHRC member has objected to such cruel disregard for the lives of the unsuspecting poor who is bound to get exposed to killer fibers of asbestos.

I submit that incessant campaign seeking asbestos free India has persuaded several ministries of Government of India and other agencies to discourage and phase out white asbestos trade. But the fact remains 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.

I submit that Union Ministry of Labour 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" in concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” during 19-20 September, 2011. The 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 Railways is working to make all railway platforms in India asbestos free. The Vision Statement on Environmental Health of Union Ministry of Environment & Forests’ reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. The 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. It is high time government withdrew fiscal incentives from the asbestos industry to discourage use of asbestos products instead of promoting it.

I submit that disregarding the epidemic of asbestos related diseases due to past exposure, new factories are coming up all over the country. White asbestos based business enterprises appear to have misled political parties that are ruling in the central and state governments into ignoring ban on it by almost all the developed countries.

I submit that 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 and its Indian investments in 1999. Many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products have gone bankrupt in USA as a result of asbestos litigation. Government should also set up a compensation fund to provide compensation to the asbestos victims of past exposure by making asbestos based companies liable for knowingly exposing workers, consumers and citizens to asbestos fibers.

In short, there is an urgent need to boycott asbestos products, phase out asbestos and asbestos based products, decontaminate asbestos laden building and products, to prepare a register of asbestos workers and victims of asbestos related diseases, to build environmental and occupational health infrastructure, to identify asbestos laden buildings, to prepare an inventory asbestos laden products, to set up a compensation fund for occupational and non-occupational victims of asbestos exposure.

I submit that malignant asbestos-related diseases include lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the ovary and larynx.) 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.) Non- malignant asbestos-related diseases include asbestosis and pleural abnormalities such as pleural thickening, pleural calcification and pleural effusion.)

I also urge you ensure that your government urgently initiates 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.

I also wish to take the opportunity to seek an appointment for a delegation to meet you to share relevant documents and insights in this regard.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi

Cc
Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare
Chief Secretary, Government of Delhi

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