Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Asbestos Mukti Andolan Opposes Coulombe's Visit to India for Investments in Killer Mines

Note: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and Asbestos Mukti Andolan (ABA), Bhojpur, Bihar expresses its opposition to the visit of Bernard Coulombe, executive director, Jeffrey Mine Inc. to India. BANI will take steps to ensure that Indian workers and consumers know the health impact of his visit to India this month to meet with “potential investors” in the killer asbestos mines.

Gopal Krishna
Asbestos episode a lesson in PR don'ts, expert says

A Quebec asbestos-mining industry executive's experience with a popular satirical television news program is like a "how-not-to" lesson in public relations, says a crisis communications expert.

According to the author of When the Headline is You, the problems began from the moment Jeffrey Mine executive director Bernard Coulombe agreed to appear on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

"He made a bad decision," Jeff Ansell told CTV's Canada AM, suggesting that Coulombe should have done his homework first.

"There was absolutely zero gain in him appearing on the program," he said. "I mean, if it's W5 calling, you've got to prepare and step up to the plate, but it was not a wise move to do that interview."

In the segment broadcast on May 5, The Daily Show's Mumbai-born reporter Aasif Mandvi ridicules both Coulombe and the industry as he heaps scorn on the practice of mining asbestos in Quebec and exporting the controversial mineral to India for processing.

At one point, he even referred to Coulombe as a "douchebag."

In response, Coulombe issued a press release blasting the "tacky parody" as a mean-spirited attempt to discredit his industry and make the people of Asbestos, Que. who make their living in it "look like ignorant imbeciles."

The type of asbestos his company is extracting is chrysotile, he said, and not the potentially more hazardous amphibole variety.

But Ansell says rather than damage-control, Coulombe's missive "took oil and poured it on the fire," essentially thrusting a waning story back into the headlines of newspapers across the country and around the world.

"He's darn lucky the headline in The Globe and Mail wasn't 'We're Not Ignorant Imbeciles, Claims Poulombe'," Ansell said, suggesting the nuance of the mining executive's explanation was lost and instead served only to rejuvenate a story that might otherwise have flown under the radar.

As it stands, Coulombe now says he's going to have trouble raising the $25 million in private-sector financing he needs to keep the mine going.

In Ansell's view, even though Coulombe felt besmirched by the satirical report, rather than relay his feelings to the whole world he should have reached out to investors privately.

"See if they bring it up, and if they bring it up then he has an explanation: 'Well, you know, clearly I should have done some homework beforehand. I mistakenly presumed this was a credible reporter doing a credible story'," Ansell said.

Prized for its fire-retardant and insulating properties, the fibrous mineral was once used in everything from clothing to coffee pots.

It's now banned in many countries around the world, including all European Union member states, Australia, Chile and Japan. Although there have been widespread efforts to remove it from Canadians schools, homes, hospitals and even the Parliament buildings in the last 20 years, Ottawa has refused to institute a ban.

Instead, this country has risen to become the biggest western supporter of asbestos trade.

Quebec, which is home to the last remaining asbestos mines in Canada, exports 95 per cent of its annual yield to countries such as India and Pakistan.

According to the World Health Organization, some 125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work each year. More than 100,000 die annually from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and respiratory diseases.

Kieron Lang, CTV News
May. 22 2011

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