February 20, 2019

Asbestos registry demanded for federal public buildings

Tradespeople who say they were unknowingly exposed to asbestos while working in federal buildings say it’s time to develop a registry to let workers know what hazards may be in Canada’s public buildings.

​​Former House of Commons staff electronics technician Hugh Graham is one of a growing number of tradespeople calling for a national public building registry.

Graham worked 18 years on Parliament Hill and has since been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

Graham, now 80, has pleural plaques, or scarring over his lungs, that wasn’t confirmed until a operation in Ottawa.

An April 2000 report from the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers confirmed Graham was exposed to asbestos during his time on Parliament Hill in the 1980s and 90s.

Government managers learned about the extent of asbestos in the Parliament buildings in a 1988 study, but Graham says he and his colleagues were not warned to take precautions until two years later.

Graham says he knows several people who worked on the Hill who were diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. He and some co-workers took it upon themselves to get checked out by doctors.

Initially, there was no sign of any asbestos-related disease. In Graham’s case, the disease, which has a latency of up to 40 years, was eventually confirmed during an operation in Ottawa.

“The plaque is over both my lungs…it’s also over my diaphragm…it looks like pizza pie, all lumpy and bumpy with scar tissue. That’s what turns into mesothelioma,” said Graham, referring to the asbestos-related cancer.

He says he lives with the possibility that cancer is coming.

“There isn’t a day goes by I don’t think of my condition and asbestos,” said Graham.

NDP calls for national registry

Graham says other countries have public registries that list buildings with asbestos and doesn’t understand why Canada doesn’t have such a registry.

Currently, Saskatchewan is the only province with such a list.

In 2012, the NDP put forth a private member’s bill calling on the Canada Labour Code to be modified to call on the Ministry of Labour to maintain a registry of information about all accidents and occupational diseases at federal buildings, but it did not move past first reading.

In question period on Tuesday, NDP MP and public works critic Pat Martin renewed his party’s call for a registry.

“In the absence of a comprehensive removal program, will the minister of public works at least concede to creating and publishing a national registry of all government buildings that are contaminated with asbestos so the workers in these buildings have at least a fighting chance when they go to work?” asked Martin.

Chris Warkentin, the parliamentary secretary for the minister of public works, did not address the idea of a registry specifically but said the government is committed to making sure workers have access to safe, fair and productive workplaces.

“Our government ensures our workers can refuse any work they believe may be dangerous. Dedicated health and safety officers work diligently on a daily basis to ensure the safety of Canada’s federally regulated workers,” said Warkentin.

Asbestos present in older buildings

Up until the 1990s, buildings in Canada were often constructed with asbestos containing materials — including ductwork, concrete, insulation, ceiling and floor materials.

Denis St. Jean, the national health and safety officer for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says it’s typical for federal buildings across Canada to contain asbestos.

– DATABASE: 16 carcinogens in Canadian workplaces

St. Jean notes this is only a problem when the asbestos is disturbed, which is often the job of the contractor or tradesperson.

“We know these buildings have asbestos. We know they were built in the years where there is high risk of exposure…There should be at least an inventory of how many of these buildings have asbestos,” said St. Jean.

A CBC investigation has revealed that while it is a worker’s right to know the hazards that might be encountered on the job, Ottawa tradesman Denis Lapointe says he had to file access to information requests to learn about the extent of his potential exposure to asbestos.

Complaints across country

Lapointe, Graham and tradespeople in Ottawa are not the only ones who say they were kept in the dark about potential exposure.

Don Garrett, a private contractor in Hope, B.C., recently filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia to settle his outstanding claim over exposure to asbestos while doing a job in a Public Works and Government Services building in B.C. in 2009.

Garrett says he unknowingly exposed himself, his staff members, inmates and correctional officers to asbestos over several days.

“A project in an older building where there’s a chance of having asbestos, there’s a requirement to produce a pre-construction, hazardous materials report and that should have been with the tender package,” he said.

“It wasn’t. I remember writing and asking for that two to three times,” said Garrett. He says he never got it.

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Asbestos registry demanded for federal public buildings

House drops and crumbles, exposing asbestos

WITH his house collapsing around him, Woolgoolga resident Ron Harris thought he was experiencing an earthquake.

After making sure his 14-year-old son was safe, he fully expected to go outside and see destruction.

But to Mr Harris’s surprise, his house was the only one affected. Heavy rain last week had drenched the ground, moving the piers and making the house drop more than a metre in seconds.

Making things even worse, Mr Harris was told he could not enter the structure to retrieve any possessions because asbestos had been exposed.

“It hit the deck in about five seconds flat. I heard a creak and then a rumble and the next minute it went bang to the ground,” Mr Harris said.

“Some piers came up through the floor. I’ve got a massive big coffee table and it had completely flipped upside down and in its place I saw this bulge – it was one of the piers.”

With the house his children grew up in gone, he will have to wait and see what can be salvaged, but he said the biggest losses were the Thumpster motorcycle his son spent a year saving for and a ride-on lawnmower he’d spent hours restoring.

The family has spent the first week couch-surfing with friends and have had some help from North Beaches Care, but Mr Harris will have to wait for structural engineers to finish assessing the house before knowing whether he can salvage anything.

Anyone who would like to help can email the Advocate on advocate@coffscoastadvocate.com.au.

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House drops and crumbles, exposing asbestos

U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation


Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal
Reform (ILR), made the following statement regarding today’s hearing on
the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015” (H.R.
526) in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would
require asbestos personal injury settlement trusts, which currently
operate with little oversight and transparency, to report on their

“We applaud Representatives Blake Farenthold and Tom Marino for
introducing this legislation, and the House Judiciary Committee for
holding today’s hearing. Abuse of the asbestos compensation system is a
national problem, and the recent indictment in New York with allegations
of kickbacks and self-dealing is just the latest example. Evidence of
plaintiffs’ lawyers manipulating and withholding key information
continues to unfold in the Garlock bankruptcy case, which stands
out as ‘exhibit A’ of the systemic fraud in asbestos litigation.

“Exploitation of the system drains the funds available to deserving
claimants and forces solvent companies, as well as their shareholders
and employees, to pay more than their fair share when claimants ‘double
dip’ in court and in the trust systems. The FACT Act would diminish the
damaging economic ripple effect of these abuses, without impacting
legitimate asbestos claims.”

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative,
political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state,
and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation
representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all
sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and
industry associations.







U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)

Justin Hakes, 202-463-3156

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U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

More asbestos cleaning at council basement rooms

SAFETY FIRST: Essential Energy contractors carry out work on Ray Walsh House in Tamworth after asbestos was discovered in a basement area. Photo: Gareth Gardner 061114GGA01

SAFETY FIRST: Essential Energy contractors carry out work on Ray Walsh House in Tamworth after asbestos was discovered in a basement area. Photo: Gareth Gardner 061114GGA01

FURTHER asbestos management work has been carried out at Tamworth’s council chambers in Peel St.

Two rooms in the basement of Ray Walsh House underwent precautionary cleaning late last month.

The rooms are adjacent to an electrical substation, where the presence of asbestos was confirmed in 2013.

Last month Essential Energy engaged an “asbestos hygienist” to clean the substation, which it leases from the council.

The asbestos is contained in a fire-retardant material applied to steel beams throughout the substation and adjoining rooms.

Heat and vibrations generated by electrical equipment has caused the substation’s asbestos to crumble, creating a potential health hazard.

Tamworth Regional Council corporate and governance director Robert Charlesworth said there was no threat to either the public or employees.

“When Essential Energy were here doing their substation, we had a hygienist undertake some air particle testing,” he said.

“It came back negative in those adjacent rooms, which is the cleaner room and the meter room. I made the decision that because they said there was dust in there – it was not asbestos-contaminated dust – to have them fully cleaned by the hygienist.”

Mr Charlesworth said there was some form of asbestos in virtually every building in Tamworth.

“While the hygienist was here I got him to do some testing in other areas within the building, to make sure the asbestos that we’re aware of is maintained and in good order,” he said.

“There is no issue with the asbestos that’s in the vermiculite covering the beams unless it has an external factor interfering with it, such as heat and vibrations.”

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More asbestos cleaning at council basement rooms

Council to give asbestos DIY advice

Council to give asbestos DIY advice


Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014

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Do-it-yourself homeowners will be targeted by a new campaign aimed at encouraging the safe removal of building materials containing asbestos.

Christchurch City Council inspections and enforcement unit manager Anne Columbus said that in the past authorities had been reluctant to provide information to homeowners on how to safely remove asbestos because they did not want to encourage them to remove it themselves, but this was happening anyway because it was expensive to get professionals to remove it.

The joint agency Waste and Environmental Management Team (Wemt) set up to manage the mountain of waste generated by the quakes had now decided to change tack and were in the process of pulling together information for homeowners on how they could manage their own asbestos removal.

“The message now is if you are going to do it, do it the right way and do the right thing,” Columbus told the council’s environment committee.

She said a new dedicated website would go live where DIY people would be able to get detailed advice on how to remove asbestos safely and how to dispose of it. It was part of a new community education campaign supported by Worksafe New Zealand and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Cr David East said the problem was not just disposing of asbestos in building materials, but also disposing of soil contaminated with asbestos.

On the former Queen Elizabeth II site, for example, there were three or four large piles of asbestos-contaminated soil. Although it technically posed little risk to the community, there was a perception among nearby residents that it could pose a health hazard.

“What is the longer-term strategy for getting rid of contaminated soil? There must be thousands of cubic metres of it?” East said.

Environment Canterbury programme manager Don Chittock acknowledged the disposal of contaminated soil was an issue and said solutions were being sought.

“We have a meeting tomorrow with Transwaste [which operates the Kate Valley landfill] to discuss disposal options . . . we’re working with the industry to provide solutions,” Chittock said.

The environment committee decided to ask for more information on the removal and disposal of asbestos-contaminated soil. It also voted unanimously to ask the council to write to the minister of building innovation and employment in support of a ban on the importation of materials containing asbestos.

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Welcome to the asbestos houses

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Property data shows at least five have been sold during the 1990s.

They were put together in panel polystyrene blocks sandwiched between asbestos cement facings.

Mr Kelly discovered the danger when he was in the middle of renovating and a neighbour ran over shouting for him to stop.

Mr Kelly discovered the danger when he was in the middle of renovating and a neighbour ran over shouting for him to stop.

Resident Jay Kelly discovered what his house was made of after starting renovations. He paid $357,500 for the three-bedroom house in 2009.

The commercial refrigeration mechanic planned to renovate for a few years and build equity to invest into land at Michelago while keeping the house as an investment.

He says at no stage in the sales process was he informed it was made almost entirely of asbestos and he is now stuck with a worthless house that he won’t be able to sell and can’t afford to knock down.

“I’ve gone back hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mr Kelly said.

The building report describes the construction as “fibre cement sheet clad sandwich panels over foam, with metal wall framing” but the composition was not listed as known.

Under ACT legislation vendors must provide an asbestos assessment report, if there is one, or generic advice on asbestos if there is not – this is what the young first home buyer received.

Despite the fact the government built the houses and allowed them to be sold, ACT authorities have told the owners it is up to them to fix the problem.

Mr Kelly discovered the danger when he was in the middle of renovating and a neighbour ran over shouting for him to stop.

He had already done internal work including sanding and repairing in preparation for repainting the pink walls.

Mr Kelly sent a sample of the house to the ACT Government Analytical Laboratory for testing where it was found to be bonded chrysotile asbestos.

This is the most common form of the substance in the ACT and it differs from the amosite loose-fill asbestos now plaguing thousands of the city’s residents.

The loose asbestos was pumped into ceilings as insulation and is always present in a dangerous form as microscopic fibres. Bonded chrysotile asbestos becomes dangerous when it is degraded or disturbed and fibres are released.

Another test by Robson Environmental showed the chrysotile asbestos to be in the internal walls, external walls, ceiling sheets, eaves sheets and joint cover strips.

“No renovation or repair may be carried out in this house if it involves drilling, screwing or sanding which may disturb asbestos containing materials,” it said.

The report also rated the internal house as being in good condition with no risk of exposure during normal building use.

But, Mr Kelly said, his house remains dangerous due in part to its poor design and lack of insulation which causes mould to constantly grow on all surfaces and leads to paint cracking because of the moisture.

He is continually repainting but cannot work on the house to improve the situation.

The other day he caught his partner’s young son sticking his finger into the hole in the wall where a towel rail had been pulled out.

“How do you teach an eight-year-old asbestos awareness?” he said.

Mr Kelly feels trapped in the house that he can’t do any work on and is angry that the advice he has been given from the government is not realistic.

He said his home does not contain a manageable amount of asbestos and if he was to remove the substance he would be left with only windows and a tin roof.

“I can’t just sell the house because I can’t pass it on to someone else,” he said.

“I can’t rent it out – who would live here with the mould.”

Mr Kelly and the other home owners want action on the matter, believing their health and financial security are under threat.

Do you know more? Email meredith.clisby@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

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Welcome to the asbestos houses

Parts of US Capitol closed after asbestos accident

WASHINGTON (AP) — An accident involving asbestos work forced a temporary closure of the House side of the Capitol on Thursday and prompted House leaders to delay the day’s session for two hours.

No injuries were reported. The incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m., Capitol Police said.

A handful of workers were removing insulation containing asbestos from around pipes and valves on the building’s fourth floor, above a staircase, said a congressional official who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

On-site samples and another sample analyzed by an outside lab revealed low enough asbestos levels that officials decided the building was safe to reopen, the official said. Those samples revealed levels similar to what is found in typical buildings in Washington, said the official, who did not provide any figures.

By midmorning, most of the building had reopened and Capitol tours on the House side had resumed. The Senate, at the other end of the 751-foot-long building, seemed unaffected by the incident.

The East Grand Staircase, which runs from the first floor to the third floor inside the House side of the building, was blocked off and more than a dozen workers and officials spent much of the day examining the area. Also closed was the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Room, a third-floor room near that staircase that was named for the late speaker and Massachusetts Democrat.

The House began the day’s session at noon instead of 10 a.m. because of “an industrial accident,” according to a statement from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Even so, by midmorning a handful of tourists was sitting in the visitors’ gallery, observing an otherwise empty chamber.

The Senate began its session as scheduled at 10 a.m.

The office of the architect of the Capitol said in a statement that engineers and certified industrial hygienists had decided the building was safe to reopen and that the staircase would remain closed indefinitely.

Construction of the main, center section of the Capitol began in 1793 and was finished in 1826.

As the country grew and more lawmakers joined Congress, a south wing for the current House chamber and a north wing for the Senate were built. Both were completed in 1868, along with a new, larger dome.

The architect’s office has been repairing decaying plaster throughout the building. It has also started preparations for a project to repair the 8.9 million pound, cast iron dome.


Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.

Originally from – 

Parts of US Capitol closed after asbestos accident

Asbestos scare shuts down House side of US Capitol

The House side of the U.S. Capitol building was temporarily closed Thursday morning after an apparent asbestos accident. ;

But after hazardous material response teams arrived on the scene and conducted air testing, Fox News is told the tests came back negative. Fox News is also told nobody was injured in the accident overnight.” ;

Fox News is told workers were removing asbestos overnight when something fell. Parts of the House side were closed Thursday morning, but it later returned to normal operations. ;

Morning debate in the House was canceled over what the speaker’s office described as an “industrial accident.” ;

The incident did not affect the Senate side, and nearby House office buildings are still open and accessible. ;

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report. ;

See the article here:

Asbestos scare shuts down House side of US Capitol

Asbestos scare temporarily shuts down House side of US Capitol

The House side of the U.S. Capitol building was temporarily closed Thursday morning after an apparent asbestos accident. ;

But after hazardous material response teams arrived on the scene and conducted air testing, Fox News is told the tests came back negative. Fox News is also told nobody was injured in the accident overnight.” ;

Fox News is told workers were removing asbestos overnight when something fell. Parts of the House side were closed Thursday morning, but it later returned to normal operations. ;

Morning debate in the House was canceled over what the speaker’s office described as an “industrial accident.” ;

The incident did not affect the Senate side, and nearby House office buildings are still open and accessible. ;

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report. ;

Original article: 

Asbestos scare temporarily shuts down House side of US Capitol

Government silent as questions mount about asbestos danger

The federal Conservative government is refusing to join the rest of the developed world in declaring that there are no safe uses for asbestos, even though the material is the top workplace killer in Canada and deaths from exposure are expected to rise.

While such countries as Australia, Japan, Sweden and Britain have imposed a ban on the flame-retardant mineral once widely employed in construction and still used in other applications including brake pads, Canada continues to allow asbestos to be both imported and exported.

No safe use: The Canadian asbestos epidemic that Ottawa is ignoring

Canada’s embrace of the “miracle mineral” has seeded an epidemic of cancers. Yet many Canadians are still exposed to asbestos every day. Don’t look to Ottawa for help — it’s still defending an industry that, like its victims, is wasting away. Read the full story, then share your thoughts in the comments.

More Related to this Story

The government would not respond directly on Tuesday to a question from the opposition about why the policy has not changed despite overwhelming evidence of the health risks.

A Globe and Mail report on Saturday said the federal government has dragged its feet in protecting this country’s citizens from asbestos’s deadly effects, and that more than 1,200 successful claims for fatality benefits were made in Canada between 2007 and 2012.

Health Canada’s website plays down the causal relationship between asbestos and some types of cancer, while asserting that it is a problem only when its fibres become airborne and “significant quantities” are inhaled.

Pat Martin, a New Democrat MP who worked in asbestos mines when he was young and has been campaigning to have the substance banned in Canada since he was elected 17 years ago, demanded to know why the government is not wavering from its position.

Mr. Martin rose during the daily Question Period in the House of Commons to ask how Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, a medical doctor who has received many letters from people who have lost family members to asbestos-related diseases, could “in all good conscience defend her government’s reprehensible policy on asbestos?”

Ms. Leitch did not respond.

In her place, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford told the House that the government will not oppose the listing of chrysotile under the Rotterdam Convention, a United Nations-sponsored treaty that requires the exporters of hazardous substances to disclose the risks.

Between 2006 and 2011, Canada was the only developed nation to object to bringing asbestos under the control of that agreement. It withdrew that objection in 2012, a year after both of Quebec’s asbestos mines were shut down.

Mr. Rickford went on to say the government’s 2013 action plan supports the economic diversification efforts of the Quebec communities of Thetford Mines and Asbestos where asbestos was mined.

“Resource management is the responsibility of the province,” he said.

Repeated questions about the government’s position that were directed this week to Health Minister Rona Ambrose have gone unanswered. Ms. Ambrose’s spokeswoman said Mr. Rickford’s reply to Mr. Martin in the House of Commons was all the government had to say about the matter.

Last month, Health Canada told The Globe in an e-mail that the information on its website “remains accurate,” and that the government has “consistently acted to protect Canadians from the health risks of asbestos.”

Mr. Martin said he was heartened by the interest in the issue that has been fostered by the newspaper’s investigation, and he believes the government is leaving itself vulnerable to criticism, both foreign and domestic, by refusing to alter its stance.

“They are increasingly marginalized among the international trading partners and they are sort of the last man standing in terms of developed nations still supporting and advocating asbestos,” Mr. Martin said. “At least we have guilted them into not actively sabotaging the Rotterdam Convention, which sadly can be seen as great progress.”

With a report from Tavia Grant

Follow on Twitter: @glorgal

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Government silent as questions mount about asbestos danger