January 23, 2019

A.M. Best Special Report: U.S. Insurers Continue Funding of Asbestos & Environmental Liabilities Despite Elusive End …


The current estimate of net asbestos losses for the U.S. property/casualty industry remains at $85 billion, with net environmental losses estimated at $42 billion, according to a new Best’s Special Report.

According to the report titled “U.S. Insurers Continue Funding of Asbestos & Environmental Liabilities, Despite Elusive End Game,” the industry had funded slightly more than 90% of its aggregate asbestos and environmental (A&E) exposures as of year-end 2013. This translated into an unfunded liability of $6.7 billion for asbestos and $3.9 billion for environmental. The report also notes that incurred losses have increased in five of the past seven years.

A.M. Best recognizes that fully funding ultimate estimates may be akin to hitting a moving target, given that ultimate exposures cannot be known with precision, especially regarding asbestos claims. Nevertheless, funding efforts continue, as most recently seen in sizable additions to A&E reserves during 2014 by Travelers Group, Hartford Insurance Group and Liberty Mutual Insurance Cos. In aggregate, these three insurers added nearly $690 million to net A&E reserves in 2014, with most of the strengthening on the asbestos side, according to the report.

For a full copy of this special report, please visit: http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=232114.

This report originally appeared in Best’s Journal, dated Dec. 22, 2014. Best’s Journal is a biweekly publication that presents A.M. Best’s original research, analysis and commentary on the global insurance industry and is available exclusively as part of a subscription to the Best’s Insurance News & Analysis service. More information about the Best’s Insurance News & Analysis subscription service is available at http://www.ambest.com/sales/bina/default.asp.

To order, contact Customer Service at +(1) (908) 439 2200, ext. 5742 or at (800) 424-2378 when calling from the United States and Canada.

A.M. Best Company is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2015 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

A.M. Best
Gerard Altonji, 908-439-2200, ext. 5626
Assistant Vice President


Christopher Sharkey, +(1) 908-439-2200, ext. 5159
Manager, Public Relations


Jim Peavy, +(1) 908-439-2200, ext. 5644
Assistant Vice President, Public Relations

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A.M. Best Special Report: U.S. Insurers Continue Funding of Asbestos & Environmental Liabilities Despite Elusive End …

Quinn signs law to nix deadline for asbestos lawsuits

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The State Journal-Register | Springfield, IL 62701

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Quinn signs law to nix deadline for asbestos lawsuits

Lack of asbestos plan halts two Canton demolitions

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The CantonRep | Canton, OH 44702

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Lack of asbestos plan halts two Canton demolitions

Asbestos removal part of demolition

Asbestos removal part of demolition – Uintah Basin Media: News


Asbestos removal part of demolition

Cera manager slated for sending 'sexy' asbestos email

Cera manager slated for sending ‘sexy’ asbestos email

Published: 6:49AM Friday June 06, 2014 Source: Fairfax

Asbestos Girl (Source: YouTube)

Asbestos Girl – Source: YouTube

A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) staff member sent contractors a link to a ”very inappropriate” YouTube video, depicting a fictional woman who wants to meet asbestos workers for sex before they die of cancer.

The video clip, titled Asbestos Girl , features a woman talking to an asbestos worker in a bar about how people in his profession are brave ”because you know you’re going to die of mesothelioma”.

Mesothelioma is a rare fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdominal cavity and can be caused by asbestos, a known carcinogen.

The link to the video was sent to about 40 Cera contractors by Cera residential red zone operations manager Tim Pow on Friday.

Pow’s email included the message: ”Now who said Asbestos was not the game to be in.”

The woman in the clip says: ”I’m just asking you to come back to my house, sniff some sealant and remove my asbestos – you know, have sex – before you die of mesothelioma.”

A Christchurch contractor, who did not want to be named, said the video was ”in very poor taste” and the email had caused outrage among its recipients.

New Zealand Demolition and Asbestos Association executive member Helina Stil said the email was ”pretty strange”.

”They think it’s all funny and stuff like that, but actually it’s not. It’s detrimental to what we’re trying to achieve as women, but it’s also detrimental to the industry as a whole.” She told Cera on Monday that the email was ”disap pointing”.

”Tim is a really really nice guy but in this instance, the email was inappropriate.”

Stil was concerned that the email also appeared to make light of the fact asbestos was a highly dangerous substance, particularly following criticism last week about how it had been handled during Canterbury’s earthquake rebuild.

”I think it’s actually very, very poor timing and very, very poor taste.”

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said the email intended to give people a laugh ”but in reality it was just dumb”.

”The content has caused offence to some, and to anyone that has been offended, I apologise on behalf of Cera.”

Cera was a strong supporter of women working in the rebuild, and about half of its senior leaders were women, along with 64% of its fixed-term and seconded staff, he said.

Cera also treated asbestos management ”very seriously” and had strict requirements in place for contractors dealing with the substance at Crown-owned properties.

Sutton said Cera would be reminding staff of its policies and expectations for the use of work email.

    Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

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    Cera manager slated for sending 'sexy' asbestos email

    Demolition company fined for dumping asbestos waste

    Demolition company fined for dumping asbestos waste

    Published: 11:45AM Thursday May 15, 2014 Source: ONE News

    • Asbestos waste (Source: Supplied)

      Asbestos waste – Source: Supplied

    A demolition and digger hire company has been fined $67,687 for illegally disposing of asbestos-contaminated demolition waste and clearing native vegetation.

    The charges relate to illegal activities at the defendant’s property, including disposing of demolition waste containing asbestos in April last year, clearing native vegetation in a special ecological area and illegal filling between August 2010 and April last year.

    The prosecution was brought jointly by Tauranga City Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the affected site is now listed with both councils as contaminated.

    In 2013 the two councils both received complaints about demolition material containing asbestos being taken from a church demolition site in Fraser Street to the Grange Road site bordering the reserve. The demolition work was being carried out by C Side Services, a company owned by Stephen Craig Walling.

    Samples dug up at the Grange Road site owned by ‘C’ Side Services tested positive for white, brown and blue asbestos, and Mr Walling was issued an abatement notice to stop work. He said he was putting clean-fill, dirt and concrete onto the property to form a driveway to a house site and to create a grassed garden area with exotic palms. He said he had taken 15 truckloads of demolition waste from the church to the Grange Road site and had also allowed two other contractors to deposit concrete and dirt there.

    A total of 372 square metres of the Special Ecological Area and its five metre buffer zone had been cleared of vegetation and a concluded that material containing asbestos at the site posed an immediate and long-term risk to human health if no management controls were put in place.

    The fines include $22,687 for asbestos disposal, $22,000 for clearing the special ecological area and $23,000 for illegal filling. The defendant is also required to re-vegetate the area and remediate the contaminated land.

      Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand


      Demolition company fined for dumping asbestos waste

      Asbestos testing continues at Auckland school

      Asbestos testing continues at Auckland school

      Published: 10:28AM Friday May 09, 2014 Source: Fairfax

      An Auckland primary school shut after asbestos dust was found will undergo further testing.

      Herne Bay’s Bayfield School was closed yesterday for health and safety reasons after discovery of the dust in a construction site.

      Initial testing found no asbestos contamination outside of the work site, the Ministry of Education said.

      “We are reassured by these results. We will be commissioning more tests to make absolutely sure there are no traces of asbestos outside the demolition site in areas children or staff have access to,” head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said.

      A secondary investigation into how the demolition site was managed is also underway.

      “Industry best-practice guidelines for safe asbestos removal were built into the tender for the demolition work, which specified the use of a certified asbestos remover,” Shannon said.

      “We understand the frustrations around this situation.

      “Worksafe New Zealand have developed a plan to remove remaining demolition materials from the school and we will be implementing that plan tomorrow.”

      A holiday programme provider is running a class for affected schoolchildren today. A nearby school is also sharing classrooms and a hall with Bayfield School.

      The school will not reopen until the site is given the all clear but classes are expected to resume early next week, Shannon said.

      The Ministry of Health says asbestos dust is a risk to people when inhaled. Fibres can become stuck and leads to “breathing difficulties or even lung cancer”.

      Bayfield is a decile 10 school with about 380 year 1 to year 6 students.

      It is currently having 70% of its buildings rebuilt after the premises were affected by weather-tightness issues.

      Principal Sheryl Fletcher has previously told Fairfax Media Bayfield’s 12-year-old buildings were leaky and cold with damp patches on the walls and ceilings on rainy days.

        Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

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        Asbestos testing continues at Auckland school

        Monks' Secret: Asbestos Lurking Beneath Byzantine Wall Paintings

        Hundreds of years before asbestos became ubiquitous in the construction industry, Byzantine monks used the fibrous material in plaster coatings underlying their wall paintings during the late 1100s, new research shows.

        Asbestos is a type of natural, rock-forming mineral known for its ability to separate into long, flexible fibers. It has long been thought that asbestos fibers, which are corrosion- and combustion-resistant, were first integrated into such things as plaster, finish coatings and floors after the Industrial Revolution.

        But while investigating the 12th-century paintings in the Byzantine monastery Enkleistra of St. Neophytos in Cyprus, UCLA researchers discovered the magnesium silicate mineral, chrysotile (white asbestos), in the finish coating of the plaster underneath a portion of a wall painting. The chrysotile provided a smooth layer with a mirrorlike surface for the painting. [See Photos of the Byzantine Monastery and 12th-Century Paintings]

        “[The monks] probably wanted to give more shine and different properties to this layer,” said UCLA archaeological scientist Ioanna Kakoulli, lead author of the new study, published online last month in the Journal of Archaeological Science. “It definitely wasn’t a casual decision — they must have understood the properties of the material.”

        A long history of use

        Though all six asbestos minerals are now known to be carcinogenic, people have taken advantage of the fibrous materials’ unique properties for millennia. About 4,500 years ago, artisans mixed asbestos minerals with clay to produce stronger pottery. And 2,000 years ago, asbestos fibers were woven into textiles to make fireproof napkins (that were “washed” by tossing them into fire), or to make a special fabric that could separate human ashes from funeral pyre material during cremations, Kakoulli said. “It was considered to have magical powers,” she told Live Science.

        In the late 19th century, people used asbestos in industrial products — including cements, wall plasters, joint (drywall) compounds, fire-retardant coatings and roofing, among other things — to increase their durability, insulation and weathering protection.

        Given this history, Kakoulli and her colleagues weren’t expecting to find asbestos on the walls of Enkleistra of St. Neophytos. They initially set out to see if there was any change in the materials used to create the monastery’s numerous wall paintings over time.

        “We wanted to see how the technological part of making these paintings follows or reveals anything of what we see in their iconography and style,” Kakoulli said.

        The researchers analyzed some of the paintings on site using various techniques, including infrared, ultraviolet and X-ray fluorescence imaging. They also collected micro-samples of the paintings and further analyzed their molecular and elemental makeup with powerful scanning electron microscopes and other methods.

        A surprising find

        One of the paintings they inspected depicted the “Enthroned Christ” holding a book with a red frame. When they analyzed the red frame, they found an asbestos-rich layer that was applied as a finish coating between a red paint layer and a plaster layer made up mostly of plant fibers. “So far, we’ve only found it in relation to those red pigments,” Kakoulli said.

        Interestingly, the main deposits of asbestos in Cyprus come from a high-elevation area approximately 38 miles (60 km) from the monastery, which is near the coast. This location suggests the monks may have been involved in a kind of interregional trade for the asbestos.

        The discovery raises many questions, such as why the asbestos was used in this context (and only for the red frame in the painting). It’s also curious why the fibrous material apparently wasn’t used again in coatings until the 19th century. [Image Gallery: Stunning Byzantine Mosaic]

        The scientists are now searching for answers. They plan to return to Cyprus to characterize more of the paintings at Enkleistra of St. Neophytos. Kakoulli also hopes to revisit other wall paintings she’s previously studied in Cyprus, to see if they also contained asbestos.

        “I have a feeling that it’s something that can be easily missed,” Kakoulli said. “This was quite an accidental discovery.”

        Two online reports provide further details on the project.

        Follow Joseph Castroon Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook& Google+.

        Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

        Source – 

        Monks' Secret: Asbestos Lurking Beneath Byzantine Wall Paintings

        KiwiRail train clearance 'premature' – RMTU

        KiwiRail train clearance ‘premature’ – RMTU

        Published: 7:26AM Tuesday March 18, 2014 Source: ONE News

        • More asbestos found in KiwiRail trains (Source: One News)

          More asbestos found in KiwiRail trains – Source: One News

        The Rail and Maritime Transport Union says plans to return some KiwiRail trains that have tested positive for asbestos to service is premature.

        Forty new DL locomotives were taken out of service after potentially harmful asbestos fibres were found in one of the Chinese-built trains last month.

        However, tests have found the potentially deadly material is only present in five trains and KiwiRail says that due to the low risk of exposure to the toxic fibres, it will bring the trains back into service soon.

        But Rail & Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says there are still many questions about the asbestos tests that need answering.

        “The first round of test results turned up negative for airborne asbestos fibres or asbestos dust. Now, the second ones are showing presence of asbestos in some locomotives,” says Mr Butson.

        “We need to see a comparison between the first and second round of testing for each locomotive, in order to understand why some have gone from negative to positive.”

        KiwiRail and union officials are meeting in Auckland today and tomorrow to discuss the results of a second round of testing for asbestos fibres

          Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

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          KiwiRail train clearance 'premature' – RMTU

          Parents, students concerned about asbestos removal at Chapel Hill High School

          The health of hundreds of students is under the microscope as Chapel Hill High School is dealing with asbestos and mold.

          Mold was removed from this school just last month, which closed its library. Now, old floor tiles are the latest concern. Both are raising questions about one of the school system’s oldest buildings.

          The latest concerns started when photos started circulating among students at the school.

          “The sign on the door showed that asbestos was in the classroom and it could potentially cause cancer and we weren’t notified,” said parent Robert Johnson.

          The photo showed a classroom that was sealed off to students and staff for fear of asbestos contamination. As a precaution, work crews conducted air quality tests that showed no threat to students or staff.

          “I think they should notify us more frequently, especially when it comes to asbestos,” said Johnson. “They notified us of the mold issue with the library, but they didn’t notify of this issue.”

          The school system said it issues a notice of asbestos containing materials at its schools every year but admits older school buildings like Chapel Hill High have become a problem.

          “The current Chapel Hill High opened in 1966. It has become an expensive and challenging facility to sustain, as have many of our older buildings,” said the district in a statement. “It is in need of substantial repairs. Our district has recently initiated a community conversation regarding how we will move forward with renovations and increasing student capacity in the coming years.”

          In the case of Chapel Hill High, it would cost the school system at least $10 million to make a laundry list of repairs, and up to $19 million to make repairs and new additions to the school. It would also cost $47 million to tear down one of its oldest school buildings to make way for a new one.

          Meanwhile, asbestos removal will continue on the weekends only, not when students are in school.

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          Parents, students concerned about asbestos removal at Chapel Hill High School