February 20, 2019

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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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.

'I just put on gloves and got on with it'

The asbestos was left on the verge for two months before the woman moved it back into her backyard.

The asbestos was left on the verge for two months before the woman moved it back into her backyard. Photo: Echo Newspapers

The Swan shire has come under fire for leaving a pile of asbestos on a verge in Middle Swan for around two months, without covering it or putting on any signage to warn people of the health hazard.

The debris was created when a resident on the corner of Bishop Road and Brown Street pulled down the fence and dumped it in the yard of the house next door – before she erected a new fence.

When unwitting tenants moved into the house on Brown Street they assumed the asbestos was fibro and took the pile to the tip.

But the tip refused to accept the asbestos because the hazardous material was not properly wrapped.


Following his unsuccessful trip to the tip, the worried tenant put the asbestos on the verge to keep it away from his partner and her two children, and the pile has sat on the verge uncovered since before Christmas.

Brown Street resident Rita Reinholdtsen said at least six phone calls had been made to alert the shire about the asbestos on the verge by concerned neighbours, but it was not removed.

“Instead the owner of the fence kept getting extensions on the timeframe she was given to move the asbestos pile she had created.”

“At the very least the shire should have covered it or put tape around it or signs to alert people of the health risks.

“There’s a young lass next door who is pregnant, she walks to school with her four-year-old and her mother-in-law and they walk right past it every day.”

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia president Robert Vojakovic agreed the shire had been irresponsible.

“It has been reported to the city, they know it’s on the verge, they can remove the asbestos and recoup the cost,” he said.

“The fact it has been allowed to sit on the verge since before Christmas is extraordinary.

“There is also the issue of risk management – you can’t expect ordinary people to clean this up.”

Shortly after Echo News put an enquiry in to the city the resident who originally pulled the fence down was told by a council representative she had to remove the pile as a priority.

So she, and her two teenage daughters, picked the asbestos sheets up off the verge and threw them back over the fence into thier backyard.

Mrs Reinholdtsen said she was horrified to watch them handle the asbestos without any masks on.

“They just had gloves and shorts on – no protective clothing and obviously they don’t understand that fibres get stuck in your clothing and lungs.”

The woman who removed the asbestos said she recieved no help from the shire.

“I would have been fine paying back the shire if they removed the asbestos and then billed me but when I asked them who could I contact to remove the pile for us, if they knew a contractor, I was told to use Google.”

She said she felt pressured after a phone call from the shire on Tuesday, so she put on some gloves and just got on with it.

But Slater & Gordon asbestos lawyer Laine McDonald said residents who cleaned up disturbed asbestos risked being exposed, especially without adequate respiratory protection.

“Around 250 Western Australians die every year from asbestos-related diseases and as long as asbestos products remain in our community we continue to be at risk.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said the City of Swan’s environmental health officer was the first point of contact for residential asbestos issues.

The spokesperson said if a resident had problems contacting the shire they could call the Health Department’s Environmental Health Directorate on 9388 4999.

“[The directorate] will follow-up with the relevant local government to ensure that any potential risk to public health has been appropriately managed.”

The spokesperson said it was not the City of Swan’s responsibility to remove the asbestos.

“But it can do if there is a default in complying with a notice, and costs can be recouped at a later stage.

“Under the Health (Asbestos) Regulations there is no set timeframe when asbestos needs to be removed.

“However, a notice or verbal advice would normally specify that this would be expected as soon as possible and practical.”

Mr McDonald said anyone who was worried about exposure to asbestos should add their details to Slater & Gordon’s online register.

“These important particulars are recorded in perpetuity, so that people don’t have to remember vital details if they’re dealing with an asbestos-related disease in decades to come.”

The City of Swan was contacted for comment.

– Echo Newspapers

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'I just put on gloves and got on with it'

Asbestos cleanup sparks concern at Cole Harbour school

Two parents whose children attend a Cole Harbour elementary school say they’re concerned that they weren’t notified of an asbestos removal operation at the school over the Christmas holidays.

Laurie and Tyler Berdan learned of the asbestos cleanup at Colonel John Stuart Elementary School while walking their dog with their kids on the property over the holidays. Tyler noticed some trucks doing work on the school and spotted a sign on the door indicating that asbestos was being removed.

Laurie said she contacted the school board once classes were back in session and was told parents weren’t informed because there was no health risk.

“Well, I guess we differ in that opinion,” she said Wednesday. “We’re talking about asbestos. Yes, there is a health risk. It’s pretty well-documented.”

Asbestos, a construction material frequently found in older buildings, can cause cancer or scarring of the lungs when inhaled in large quantities. The federal government’s guidelines on asbestos say it does not pose a significant health risk when it is enclosed in a product and is not disturbed.

Laurie said she’s confident that the school and school board have taken all the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the students and staff. But she said parents should have been notified of the operation.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t have the kids at the school if the air quality tests didn’t come back within the realm (of safety),” she said. “I’m absolutely positive that they’ve done everything correct. But I also think that we kind of have the right to know.”

After learning about the asbestos removal, the parents were left with unanswered questions.

“When was it found? How was it found? Was it disturbed? How much of it was there?” Laurie asked. “Parents should have the right to assess any sort of health risk.”

Tyler said there was no effort to inform anybody, “regardless of whether the risk was higher or lower or virtually non-existent.”

Doug Hadley, the spokesman for the Halifax regional school board, said ceiling tiles were removed from most of the school over the holidays in preparation for a lighting retrofit planned for this month.

“It was recognized that the ceiling tiles, because of their age, would have contained asbestos,” he said. “It actually was a proactive measure. There was not any immediate concern.”

Hadley said that due to their age, about 75 per cent of schools in the board’s jurisdiction may have asbestos. But he emphasized that as long as the material isn’t disturbed, there is no risk to health or safety.

Although the board doesn’t have a policy on informing parents of asbestos removal, Hadley said after the Berdans’ complaint, parents at Colonel John Stuart Elementary School will be notified about the recent work.

“Typically, we would not inform parents of that type of removal because it only takes place during times when no students or staff are in the building,” he said. “If it had occurred during a time when the building was going to be occupied, we would have made that notification.”

But since more schools may be facing similar work in the future, the board will consider notifying parents at those schools, too.

“It gives us some thought that maybe, just to be on the proactive side of things, that we let parents know what the scope of the work is before it happens.”

Hadley said tests conducted at Colonel John Stuart Elementary School showed acceptable air quality.

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Asbestos cleanup sparks concern at Cole Harbour school