March 25, 2019

New figures reveal compensation for deadly diseases

New figures reveal compensation for deadly diseases

Beccles Library.
Beccles Library.

Monday, February 16, 2015

8:55 AM

New figures have revealed how victims of asbestos-related diseases have been paid more than £200,000 in compensation from councils around the region over the past five years.

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Great Yarmouth High School.
December 2013.

Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth High School.
December 2013.

Picture: James Bass

And local authorities have acknowledged potentially deadly asbestos is still present in scores of schools, homes, libraries, fire stations and other council properties in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

While councils stress the substance is not a risk to health if left undisturbed, compensation has been paid to former council workers who developed asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, after they were exposed to the dust during their employment.

Mesothelioma is a lung cancer which kills nearly 50 people a week in the UK. It is caused by exposure to specks of asbestos, which used to be used as coatings and insulation.

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 713 deaths from mesothelioma in Norfolk between 1981 and 2011; 593 in Suffolk; and 332 in Cambridgeshire.

What is mesothelioma?

-Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that can develop in the tissues covering the lungs or the abdomen.

-Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type, is in the tissue covering the lungs, while peritoneal mesothelioma is in the lining of the abdomen.

-Symptoms include pain in the chest or lower back, shortness of breath, a fever or night sweats, abdominal pain, unexplained fatigue, no appetite and weight loss.

-More than 2,500 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, and men are five times more likely to be diagnosed than women.

-Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a soft, greyish-white material that used to be widely used in building construction as a form of insulation and to protect against fire.

-The outlook for mesothelioma is poor because it is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma will die within three years of being diagnosed, and the average person survives for around 12 months.

-Every year in the UK, there are around 2,300 deaths from the condition and it is estimated that, by 2050,

90,000 people in the UK will have died as a result of mesothelioma.

Figures revealed council compensation payments for asbestos-related diseases since 2009 included three former Norwich City Council workers. A 65-year-old received £156,000 in 2009, while a 78-year-old and a 60-year-old received £35,300 and £10,700 in 2010. A 2012 claim by a 79-year-old has yet to be decided.

Other payments were to a former West Norfolk Council worker who repaired prefabricated council houses, who received more than £2,700 and just over £9,400 to an ex-Waveney District Council housing maintenance worker. There were no claims in Breckland, Broadland, South Norfolk or North Norfolk, while two claims to Great Yarmouth Borough Council were not successful. Cambridgeshire County Council has had four claims since 2009, of which one was successful, while Suffolk County Council has had three claims, of which two are ongoing.

One of those claims is from a former Suffolk pupil who claims to have developed the condition while at one of the county’s schools.

Norfolk County Council has received seven claims since 2009, for a total of just under £15,000. The council refused to reveal how many claims had been successful or how much had been paid.

Which buildings contain asbestos?

Council-owned Norfolk and Suffolk buildings which have been found to have asbestos:

-County Hall, Norwich

-Castle Museum

-Strangers’ Hall

-Wensum Lodge

-Sprowston High School

-Great Yarmouth High School

-Benjamin Britten High School, Lowestoft

-Cromer Fire Station

-Wymondham Fire Station

-Acle Fire Station

-King’s Lynn Library

-Beccles Library

-Brundall Library

-Swaffham Library

-Diss Register Office

-Thetford Register Office

But a spokesman did say it had spent more than £2m over the past five years to remove materials which contain asbestos from its buildings.

Dozens of schools, libraries, fire stations, Norwich Castle and County Hall itself, all contain such materials, the council confirmed.

Derryth Wright, health safety and wellbeing manager at Norfolk County Council, said: “The HSE states that asbestos does not pose a risk to health when it is intact and in good condition, and our programme of work reflects this position.

“All of our schools have had a survey undertaken to identify and assess the condition of asbestos containing materials (ACM).”

Norwich City Council says 2,327 properties, including council houses, are identified as having low-risk types of asbestos, such as in some types of Artex or vinyl floor tiles.

A spokesman said it was “highly unlikely to release asbestos fibres in normal use” but that there were plans for removal in 636 properties.

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    New figures reveal compensation for deadly diseases

    Mesothelioma in southern Nevada likely result of asbestos in environment

    Malignant mesothelioma has been found at higher than expected levels in women and in individuals younger than 55 years old in the southern Nevada counties of Clark and Nye, likewise in the same region carcinogenic mineral fibers including actinolite asbestos, erionite, winchite, magnesioriebeckite and richterite were discovered. These data, published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, suggest that these elevated numbers of malignant mesothelioma cases are linked to environmental exposure of carcinogenic mineral fibers.

    Malignant mesothelioma is a fatal cancer associated with asbestos exposure that develops on the outer linings of the lungs. The 3-year survival rate is only 8% and there are limited therapeutic options. The incidence of malignant mesothelioma is higher in locations with known industrial and occupational exposure and for similar reasons the incidence is higher in men, with a male to female ratio of 4:1 to 8:1. The latency period for is 30-50 years so those diagnosed from occupational exposure are usually in their seventies whereas those diagnosed younger than 55 are rarely associated with occupational exposure. Asbestos is a commercial and regulatory term applied to six mineral fibers historically mined for industrial use. Naturally occurring asbestos is a term used to describe fibrous minerals that were not used commercially and therefore were not called asbestos and their use was and still is not regulated. Like asbestos, these naturally occurring fibers are natural components of rocks and soils and a potential source of exposure especially if these fibers become airborne through natural erosion or human activities producing dust.

    Researchers from Hawaii, Nevada, and Pennsylvania examined malignant mesothelioma mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control by gender, age group, state, and counties for the period 1999-2010. The two southern Nevada counties of Clark and Nye were grouped together and the proportion of women and those younger than 55 years old in these two southern counties were compared to those in all other Nevada counties grouped together as well as the rest of the United States.

    The male to female ratio of malignant mesothelioma in all Nevada counties excluding Clarke and Nye was 6.33:1, but in Clarke and Nye counties it was statistically lower at 2.69:1 (p=0.0468), which could not be explained by population demographics, as these were the same. The percentage of individuals younger than 55 was significantly higher in the southern Nevada counties compared to the remainder of the US counties (11.28% vs 6.21%, p=0.0249). Tremolite and actinolite, both members of the asbestos family, as well as erionite, winchite, richterite, and magnesioriebeckite are present in southern Nevada and all have been linked to cancer in humans.

    The authors acknowledge that women and children can be exposed to fibrous minerals as a result of their husband’s or father’s occupational exposure when bringing these fibers home on their clothes. However, the authors conclude “in southern Nevada there are no major asbestos industries, thus this seems an unlikely hypothesis. Instead, the presence of asbestos and other fibers in the environment of Clark and Nye Counties, where a lower M:F sex ratio and an increased proportion of malignant mesothelioma are seen in young individuals, suggests that some of these malignant mesotheliomas are caused by environmental exposure which can happen when human activities and natural processes such as wind or water release fibers in the air.”

    Michele Carbone, senior author on the study, states “further research is needed, including epidemiological, geological, mineralogical and health-based personal exposure studies in order to characterize the residential and occupational history of the malignant mesothelioma cases we studied, to highlight the highest risk areas within Clark and Nye counties, to identify the type of fibrous minerals and their precise distribution throughout Nevada, and to identify the activities responsible for the release of fibers in the air, which may be the cause of some of the malignant mesothelioma in this region.”

    Story Source:

    The above story is based on materials provided by International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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    Mesothelioma in southern Nevada likely result of asbestos in environment

    Asbestos NHS costs law overruled

    BBC News – Asbestos NHS costs laws overruled by Supreme Court

    AM Mick Antoniw says he is ‘absolutely gutted’ by the rejection of the bill

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    Firms in Wales whose staff are treated for asbestos-related illnesses will not be ordered to reimburse the NHS.

    The Supreme Court agreed with insurers who claimed an assembly law passed in 2013 was outside its competence.

    The court said Welsh ministers had no right to impose charges to fund the NHS, and insurers should not be given extra liabilities for asbestos exposure which long predated the bill.

    The Association of British Insurers (ABI) welcomed the judgement.

    “The Welsh Bill would have seen increased insurance premiums for Welsh businesses but no extra compensation for mesothelioma sufferers,” said a spokesperson.

    “The insurance industry remains committed to doing all it can to help the victims of this terrible disease and would be happy to work constructively with the Welsh Government on this issue, as it does on other public policy.”

    ‘Clarity’ call

    Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, who first proposed the bill, said he was “gutted” at the ruling, having predicted the measure could have raised £1m a year for the NHS in Wales.

    The bill had been referred to the Supreme Court by the Welsh government’s Counsel General Theodore Huckle following objections from the insurance industry.

    Lung scan showing cancerThe law could have raised £1m a year for the health service, Mr Antoniw claimed

    The Welsh government said it would give “careful consideration to this judgment”.

    Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler called for “greater clarity” so everyone understood what laws the assembly could pass.

    The Supreme Court has previously ruled in favour of the assembly on changes to local government by-laws and the re-establishment of the Agricultural Wages Board which had been abolished by the UK government.

    More on This Story

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    Asbestos NHS costs law overruled

    Asbestos found in NSW home as free testing widens in Mr Fluffy saga

    The first property to test positive for loose-fill asbestos as part of the NSW government’s free testing program has been identified.

    The property is located within the Berrigan Shire Council area, an agricultural area in the southern Riverina – halfway between Albury and Echuca.

    It is the first home to provide a positive result since the NSW government began offering free voluntary roof insulation testing in August last year. So far, 630 tests across the state have been completed. The Berrigan property brings to 58 the number of NSW homes found to contain loose-fill asbestos. These include 14 houses and one block of 38 units in Queanbeyan, a home in the Yass Valley, one in Bungendore, one in Lithgow, one in Parramatta and one in Manly.

    Three other affected homes have been demolished. All those properties were identified via historical records, prior to the positive Berrigan test.

    Last August the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent investigation into the number of NSW properties affected by loose-fill asbestos supplied by two known companies, the ACT’s Mr Fluffy and a second contractor Bowsers Asphalt, which was targeting large non-residential buildings in NSW.

    A spokesman for the NSW government said a technical assessment would now be conducted on the positive asbestos sample to try and determine its origin.

    A total of 1752 properties across 26 NSW Local Government Areas have registered for the free testing program which will run until August.

    The newly discovered home will also be subject to an asbestos assessment to advise owners whether the living spaces are adequately sealed and whether “asbestos pathways (are) appropriately controlled”.

    The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities said “testing of homes with loose-fill asbestos insulation has shown that exposure is likely to be very low if the asbestos is undisturbed and remains sealed off at all points where entry of asbestos into living areas can occur, including cornices, architraves, around vents, light fittings, manholes and the tops of cupboards.”

    NSW residents who are living in homes built before 1980 can register online or call Service NSW to see if they are eligible to have their property tested.

    In December, the NSW government announced an inquiry into the potential demolition of loose asbestos-affected homes, in line with action taken by the ACT government.

    NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet also announced a financial assistance package for NSW residents who were confirmed to have Mr Fluffy in their homes, providing the same levels of assistance as in the ACT.

    See the original post: 

    Asbestos found in NSW home as free testing widens in Mr Fluffy saga

    Somerset Town Hall work proceeding along with asbestos removal

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    Somerset Town Hall work proceeding along with asbestos removal

    Sheldon Silver Arrest Shows The Seamy Side Of Asbestos Litigation

    Federal prosecutors unsealed a criminal complaint against New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, detailing long-rumored allegations about how a prominent asbestos law firm steered millions of dollars to the powerful politician in exchange for client referrals from a doctor, who in turn is accused of accepting favors from Silver.

    The 35-page complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York accuses Silver of accepting more than $5.3 million in payments from Weitz & Luxenberg, a New York law firm that specializes in asbestos lawsuits. Silver is also accused of obtaining the money in exchange for client referrals from an unnamed doctor in Manhattan who is cooperating with prosecutors under non-prosecution agreement. The doctor is accused of receiving substantial benefits from the Speaker, including $500,000 in grants for his mesothelioma research clinic and a job for a family member at a state-funded non-profit.

    The complaint accuses Silver of using his office to obtain “referral fees” in exchange for little or no actual legal work, and failing to report some of them on his personal finance statements. He obtained more than $500,000 in fees from another law firm specializing in real estate appraisal appeals, prosecutors said. No one in Silver’s office was immediately available for comment.

    It has long been known that Silver earned hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from Weitz & Luxenberg, but under New York’s lax reporting rules he wasn’t required to say exactly how much or what he did for the money. Today’s complaint provides more detail, showing how the extraordinarily lucrative business of suing over asbestos generates enough fee income to finance “research grants” to doctors who refer clients back to them.

    Citing records pulled by the state’s short-lived Moreland Commission as well a a federal investigation, prosecutors say Silver parlayed his relationship with the physician identified as “Doctor-1″ to funnel clients to Weitz & Luxenberg in exchange for 33% of the firm’s take on any case. The doctor is further identified as running a mesothelioma research center at a major university, and having received a commendation from the Assembly in May, 2011.

    Dr. Robert Taub runs the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center and received a commendation in May 2011, He was until 2013 affiliated with the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, whose major supporters include asbestos attorney Peter Angelos. Taub hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing and wasn’t immediately available for comment.

    According to the complaint, Silver met Doctor-1 through a mutual friend. The doctor had never referred patients to Weitz & Luxenberg because they didn’t fund mesothelioma research, the complaint says. Soon after learning that Silver had joined the firm in 2002, the doctor asked him if Weitz & Luxenberg would start funding research.

    Silver told him he should start referring his patients to the firm, prosecutors say, and that state funds were available for his research. (New York allocated $8.5 million a year to a discretionary fund, controlled by Silver, for healthcare grants, until that fund was discontinued in 2007.) Seven weeks after the doctor made his first referral to Weitz & Luxenberg, records show, he made a $250,000 grant request to the state. The letter was addressed to Silver. On July 5, 2005, Silver directed a $250,000 grant to the doctor’s mesothelioma center. The letter said the money would be for mesothelioma research including on the effects of the Sept. 11 catastrophe in Silver’s district, but didn’t mention the client referrals Silver was getting.

    See the original post:  

    Sheldon Silver Arrest Shows The Seamy Side Of Asbestos Litigation

    Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains

    Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains

    Last updated 05:00 13/01/2015

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    Contractors are removing asbestos “crumbs” found in the remains of Aranui High School buildings demolished about four years ago.

    Three buildings demolished at the school in 2010 as part of scheduled upgrades were removed but “some crumbs of materials remained buried and undisturbed”, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Rob Campbell said.

    Surface materials were removed and the area isolated and the ministry engaged an expert consultant to investigate how to remove buried fragments.

    The removal would be done before school reopened this year, he said.

    “We have been advised that the risk to students or staff is minimal, as the materials which contained asbestos was buried undisturbed under the soil.”

    Strict processes for managing asbestos would be carried out during any development, Campbell said.

    Aranui High and community campus establishment board chairwoman Haneta Pierce said plans initially involved moving the original Maori whare from the high school onto the new site.

    “Because of the asbestos, we can’t do that,” she said.

    Aranui High principal John Rohs said the whare had a lot of cultural significance for the community and had been on the grounds for more than 30 years.

    It had “a lot of asbestos in it which took us by surprise”, he said.

    Original plans were to gift it to the new campus and Rohs was “deeply disappointed” it was no longer feasible.

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    Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains

    Mr Fluffy home owners may take newer solar panels after all, ACT government says

    Going too: The owners leaving homes contaminated by loose asbestos can take newer solar panels with them after all, the ACT government says.

    Going too: The owners leaving homes contaminated by loose asbestos can take newer solar panels with them after all, the ACT government says.

    The Asbestos Taskforce has softened its stance on solar panels, saying Mr Fluffy property owners can take newer panels with them.

    In December, the taskforce said solar panels must be left behind, because removing them could expose workers to asbestos in the roof cavity. The taskforce was also concerned that panels were difficult to remove without damage and said most were unlikely to comply with new fire standards.

    But a spokeswoman said this week if the panels had been installed after July 2013 they would comply with fire regulations and could be removed. The mountings, though, must be left behind.

    The taskforce knew of 102 homes with solar panels, she said. It is unclear how many are fire compliant and how many are signed up to the ACT government’s generous feed-in scheme. The scheme, now closed to new customers, gives them a premium feed-in tariff for power generated from their panels for 20 years.

    Benn Masters, from solar installer Solarhub, said owners should consider taking their old panels, given the cost of a new system. A new three-kilowatt system of 12 panels would cost about $3000 for the panels alone, with up to $2000 more for the inverter, plus the mount and installation costs, he said. If owners could take their existing panels and the inverter, they would have to pay only for installation and a new mount.

    He rejected the suggestion that panels would be easily damaged on removal and said removal was a reasonably simple job. An electrician would have to remove the inverter, which might involve cutting through bolts attaching it to the wall, since the government will not allow any screws, bolts or nails into walls to be removed in case asbestos fibres in wall cavities are disturbed.

    New systems would not be eligible for a rebate. “Costs will add up pretty quickly for these guys and if you can reuse what’s there, I definitely think that’s a better option for them,” Mr Masters said.

    He urged the government to make a quick decision on allowing owners to keep their feed-in tariff in their new homes.

    His company is offering to remove panels free of charge for Mr Fluffy property owners, but owners would have to pay for the reinstallation in a new home.

    Solarhub and Solarstart, now merged, had been installing panels since 2009, Mr Masters said. He was concerned about workers’ exposure to Mr Fluffy asbestos during installation, since they access roof cavities, but said every electrician and many other tradespeople in Canberra faced the same issue.


    Mr Fluffy home owners may take newer solar panels after all, ACT government says

    Asbestos anxiety as girl tumbles into Telstra pit

    CAUSE FOR CONCERN: Still horrified by the potential discovery of asbestos in a Telstra pit across the road from their house in Sisters Beach are Jarrod Woodland and Melanie Strempel with Angela, 5, and Levi Strempel, 7. Picture: Meg Windram.

    CAUSE FOR CONCERN: Still horrified by the potential discovery of asbestos in a Telstra pit across the road from their house in Sisters Beach are Jarrod Woodland and Melanie Strempel with Angela, 5, and Levi Strempel, 7. Picture: Meg Windram.

    A SISTERS Beach mother-of-two got the shock of her life after her daughter partially fell into a Telstra services pit last week.

    Melanie Strempel’s daughter suffered minor cuts and abrasions, however it was what she found at the bottom of the pit that was the cause for concern.

    After running out to see if her daughter was alright, Miss Strempel noticed broken pieces of cement sheeting at the bottom of the pit.

    Miss Strempel and her partner believe it’s asbestos.

    “We were observing my daughter out the window of our house playing over the road,” Miss Strempel said.

    “The pit is on a hump on the grass and a lot of children play in that area, riding their bikes.

    “My partner noticed my daughter go over the hump on her bike when the lid flipped up and she fell into it.

    “When we went over to see if she was alright in the bottom of the pit we noticed all the broken bits of asbestos, the pit had deteriorated on the inside.”

    Miss Strempel lost her grandfather to an asbestos-related disease and the incident during the week brought back memories.

    She was straight on the phone to Telstra to report the incident.

    “When I spoke to Telstra they said someone would come out to fix the problem.

    “Three days later a technician turned up only to put a plastic sheet over it and a yellow cage.”

    Telstra were contacted for comment.

    The company does have an asbestos procedure listed on its website.

    This comes after crews fitting out pits for the National Broadband Network found asbestos.

    More information can be found on the website at

    Original article:

    Asbestos anxiety as girl tumbles into Telstra pit

    Vivienne Westwood Tries To Give David Cameron Asbestos For Christmas

    Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has attempted to deliver asbestos as a Christmas present to David Cameron in a protest against fracking.

    The 73-year-old, her son and a protester dressed as Santa Claus in a gas mask, turned up outside the gates of Downing Street with holding a clear box filled with the poisonous substance.

    Westwood said she wanted to wish the PM a “merry fracking Christmas” but police did not allow the dubious gift to reach him.

    vivienne westwood

    Westwood with Santa

    Westwood, who was also at Downing Street with her businessman son Joseph Corre, was campaigning about the alleged health risks linked to fracking, with the campaign Talk Fracking.

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    Westwood Blogs: Big Ag – “Eat Less”

    Malcolm McLaren, Corre’s father, died of cancer due to asbestos, and his mother Westwood warned that the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique used to extract oil and gas could become “the next asbestos or thalidomide”.

    After the box of asbestos was rejected, Westwood and her son delivered “independent medical reports” on the consequences of fracking to the PM.

    vivienne westwood

    Westwood got to Downing Street – but the “present” wasn’t allowed in

    vivienne westwood

    Westwood warned fracking could become “the next asbestos or thalidomide”.

    Asked if she expected the Prime Minister to listen to their message, Westwood said: “Will David Cameron listen to us? He lost a child, he must have some sympathy, and he’s not connecting the dots.”

    “They link very clearly the chemicals used in fracking industry to some really horrible, serious illnesses,” 47-year-old Corre said.

    “Birth defects in children, horrible cancers, skin diseases, rashes, nosebleeds, stunted growth, all kinds of things.

    “We are lucky to have this information in advance from the terrible situation that his happening right now in the United States.

    “We have the opportunity now, and I hope David Cameron takes it, to put an end to what could be something quite disastrous for the UK.

    “David Cameron has no democratic mandate to be pushing this through on to the British people. This is something the entire country is going to start waking up to.”

    The protest came after New York state governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced yesterday that it would ban fracking after a report concluded that it poses potential health risks.

    Corre said that his inspiration for taking a stance against fracking was his father’s death from cancer aged 64.

    “He died a really horrible death. It was quite something and I wouldn’t want to wish that on to anybody or anybody’s family.”

    The protesters claimed that chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport warned in his annual report that the Government has not given proper consideration to the potential health risks of fracking.

    But Walport denied that the view that fracking could be the next asbestos or thalidomide should be attributed to him.
    Rather, it was the view of another author, Andy Stirling, who contributed an evidence document to the annual report.

    Sir Mark said: “With regard to fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of shale to obtain natural gas and oil, I fully endorse the report of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

    “Of course, methane is a fossil fuel, but as long as it is burned efficiently and fugitive emissions of methane gas are minimised, it is a less harmful fossil fuel than coal and oil, and is an important way-station on the global journey towards low-carbon energy.

    “The scientific evidence is clear that any environmental or geological risks can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through effective regulation.”

    Downing Street declined to respond to Ms Westwood’s comments about Cameron’s son.