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July 17, 2018

Row as flytippers dump asbestos waste outside Hampshire village hall

Row as council refusing to dispose of fly-tipped asbestos from community hall used by families

Some of the bags of dangerous waste dumped next to hall used by the community.

Some of the bags of dangerous waste dumped next to hall used by the community.



First published


A ROW has erupted after fly-tippers dumped hazardous builders’ waste outside a village hall.

Four bags of rubbish, including potentially dangerous asbestos, were left in the car park at Plaitford Village Hall near Romsey.

Test Valley Borough Council will not remove the waste as it is on private land, telling the volunteers who run the hall that they will have to arrange and pay for it to be removed.

Village hall chairman Sarah Pearce said: “I feel that the council should remove the rubbish as a measure of goodwill as we have their recycling bins situated in our car park.

“We receive no payment for this.

“On many occasions we have had to clear broken glass and rubbish from these, which are not our responsibility.”

Daily Echo:

Fellow hall committee member Andrew Turnbull said: “The recycling bags were dumped about ten days ago and contain asbestos materials. Once other people realise rubbish is being dumped here I am worried more will follow.

“Test Valley have not been very helpful at all with this.

“We are a charity and the hall is run by volunteers and we haven’t got the money to pay for it to be removed.”

The committee is now trying to find someone to dispose of the unwanted waste materials.

Test Valley Borough Council says that removing dumped rubbish is costly and it’s down to owners of private land to call in experts to get rid of it.

A spokesperson said: “We regret that the village hall committee is unhappy with the council’s response.

“The council investigates all reports of fly-tipping and will remove fly-tipped waste from public land. However, when waste is fly-tipped on private land, as with this particular case, it is the landowner’s responsibility.

“We are unable to remove fly-tipped waste from private land as this would mean taxpayers picking up the cost of the clear-up.

“We have spoken with the committee and provided details of how to arrange removal of the asbestos.”

Taken from: 

Row as flytippers dump asbestos waste outside Hampshire village hall

ADAO Announces 11th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference: Registration Open

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Today, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims, announced its speakers and honorees for the upcoming 11th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference, entitled “Where Knowledge and Action Unite.” Registration opens today. ADAO is the only U.S. nonprofit organizing annual conferences dedicated solely to preventing exposure and eliminating asbestos-caused diseases.

The conference will be held April 17-19, 2015, in Washington, DC. More than 30 renowned medical experts and asbestos victims from more than 10 countries will speak on the latest advancements in asbestos disease prevention, treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases, and global ban asbestos advocacy. The conference will also include an Awards and Recognition Dinner and a Unity and Remembrance Brunch.

“The 2015 ADAO conference is another key milestone for progress in public health that addresses the needs of countless asbestos victims and their families who seek answers,” said Dr. Richard Lemen, retired U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and ADAO Science Advisory Board Co-Chair. “I am honored to again be supporting and participating in this critical event.”

“As our 11th Annual Conference grows closer, I continue to be astounded at what we can accomplish when we come together,” stated Linda Reinstein, President/CEO and Co-Founder of ADAO. “Each year, more than 107,000 people die from preventable asbestos-caused diseases. Most people can’t identify asbestos or manage the risk. Without a ban, imports continue. I am looking forward to again joining together with the dedicated ADAO supporters, experts, volunteers, victims, and their families at this highly collaborative event. As a grassroots organization, we are truly thankful for the dedication and support of our many donors and volunteers who continue to prove that knowledge is power.”

Each year, ADAO’s conference recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations from around the world that serve as a voice for asbestos victims, raising awareness and advocating for a worldwide asbestos ban. ADAO is delighted to announce the 2015 ADAO Honorees which include: The American Public Health Association (APHA), the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig), The Brazilian Labour Public Ministry, Dr. Jorma Rantanen, Troi Atkinson, and Ellen Patton.

To register for ADAO’s 2015 conference, visit the following link: http://www.cvent.com/d/qrqjmy

About Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO seeks to give asbestos victims and concerned citizens a united voice to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure. ADAO is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing asbestos-related diseases through education, advocacy, and community. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.

Contact:

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Kim Cecchini

Media Relations

202-391-5205


Kim@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

Link: 

ADAO Announces 11th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference: Registration Open

Garlock offers revised bankruptcy deal for asbestos claims

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) – EnPro Industries and a bankrupt subsidiary, Garlock Sealing Technologies, have struck a deal with a plaintiffs’ lawyer to set aside $357.5 million to cover asbestos related claims, but others are expected to oppose the deal.

EnPro and Garlock, a bankrupt maker of asbestos-lined gaskets, said in a release late on Tuesday that the agreement could be approved in 15 to 24 months as part of an amended reorganization plan it will submit to the North Carolina court where Garlock filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010.

If approved, the plan would allow a reorganized Garlock to shed its liability for asbestos litigation, the latest phase in a bankruptcy touted by manufacturers as fundamentally shifting the legal terrain in asbestos cases in their favor.

The companies estimated the deal’s after-tax value to be roughly $205 million.

The deal was struck with an attorney representing people with future claims for an cancer known as mesothelioma and other asbestos-related health issues.

But EnPro and Garlock said they expect a separate group of plaintiffs’ lawyers representing current asbestos plaintiffs to take the unprecedented step of breaking with the future claimants and challenge the deal.

Those lawyers had previously asked Judge George Hodges to make Garlock put aside up to $1 billion for estimated asbestos claims. Garlock said that figure was inflated by fraud and manipulation in past settlements.

Following a trial, Hodges in January estimated Garlock’s asbestos liability to be just $125 million, and criticized plaintiffs’ lawyers for “infect(ing) fatally the settlement process and historic data.”

EnPro CEO Steve Macadam said in an investor call on Wednesday that the company had attempted to negotiate a settlement of asbestos claims with representatives for both groups of claimants. Macadam said that while a consensual deal would have been preferable, support from future claimants would help the plan win approval.

The agreement marks the first time in an asbestos-related bankruptcy that representatives for future and current claimants had split over a health claims funding agreement, Macadam said.

Asbestos plaintiffs’ lawyer Peter Kraus said the agreement violated a requirement that asbestos trusts secure approval from 75 percent of claimants.

Macadam said that, based on Hodges’ ruling, he believed the majority of Garlock’s liability came from future asbestos claims.

Garlock has also taken the unusual step of suing five plaintiffs’ firms for alleged abusive behavior in asbestos cases. Those cases are pending.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Delaware; Editing by Christian Plumb)

See original:

Garlock offers revised bankruptcy deal for asbestos claims

Mesothelioma Victims Center Launches New Initiative to Provide Diagnosed Victims Exposed to Asbestos at Coal-Fired …

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The Mesothelioma Victims Center is launching a new initiative focused on making certain all diagnosed victims of this rare form of cancer exposed to asbestos at a coal-fired power plant have instant access to the nation’s most skilled mesothelioma compensation lawyers. When it comes to power plants and exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma victims and/or their family members need to contact the specialists at 866-714-6466 or visit http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com if the family wants any hope of obtaining the very best compensation.

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150109/168099
Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150109/168100

The center says, “Over the years we have been extremely honored that so many diagnosed victims of mesothelioma came to us for advice on what to do for a loved one exposed to asbestos while working in conditions that subjected them to daily exposure to the toxic fibers. Coal-fired power plants have recently come to our attention, so this week we have decided to begin a new initiative based entirely around helping individuals who may have questions about the compensation claim process.

“The common theme we see among power plant workers is exposure. What changes from person to person is the level of exposure and the amount of time spent in work environments where asbestos was used. Unfortunately for us, the battle to educate potential victims is forever uphill, as the signs of mesothelioma look similar to pneumonia. This often leads individuals to ignore their work history and settle with treating what they think is pneumonia. What we want to do is to spend the time with these individuals who suspect mesothelioma but are unsure of where to begin and go over how incredibly important it is that they have the nation’s top mesothelioma compensation lawyers working on their side. This is a service we offer on the spot with one call to 866-714-6466.

“These types of claims can produce some of the most significant compensation settlements we have seen. What we really want to stress to these individuals is simple—if you don’t seek help, compensation will not happen.” 

For more information, a diagnosed victim of mesothelioma or their family members are urged to contact the Mesothelioma Victims Center anytime at 866-714-6466 or visit http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com.

For more information about existing U.S. Coal Plants please refer to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants

Information About Mesothelioma For Diagnosed Victims And Their Families From The Mesothelioma Victims Center:

High risk work groups for exposure to asbestos include US Navy Veterans, power plant workers, shipyard workers, oil refinery workers, manufacturing workers, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, machinists, or construction workers. Typically the exposure to asbestos occurred in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

According to the US Center for Disease Control the average age for a diagnosed victim of mesothelioma is 72 years old.  Frequently victims of mesothelioma are initially misdiagnosed with pneumonia. This year between 2,500 and 3,000 US citizens will be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is attributable to exposure to asbestos.

According to the CDC, the states indicated with the highest incidence of mesothelioma include Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Washington, and Oregon. However, based on the calls the Mesothelioma Victims Center receives, a diagnosed victim of mesothelioma could live in any state including New York, Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, or Alaska.

For an up to date map from the CDC showing the states with the highest incidence of mesothelioma please refer to their web site on this topic. http://www2.cdc.gov/drds/worldreportdata/figuretabledetailsarchive.asp?FigureTableID=139&GroupRefNumber=F07-02

The Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “Before you hire a mesothelioma attorney please call us at 866-714-6466, and compare the qualifications of who we consider to be the nation’s most skilled mesothelioma attorneys to any other lawyer, or law firm. When it comes to obtaining the best mesothelioma compensation settlement, the quality of the attorney matters, as we would like to explain anytime.” http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

For more information about mesothelioma please refer to the National Institutes of Health’s web site related to this rare form of cancer: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mesothelioma.html

Media Contact:

M. Thomas Martin
866-714-6466

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mesothelioma-victims-center-launches-new-initiative-to-provide-diagnosed-victims-exposed-to-asbestos-at-coal-fired-power-plants-access-to-the-nations-best-lawyers-300018454.html

View article: 

Mesothelioma Victims Center Launches New Initiative to Provide Diagnosed Victims Exposed to Asbestos at Coal-Fired …

Asbestos Work At Enfield High Confuses Parents, Who Say They Weren't Notified

ENFIELD – Parents of students at Enfield High School were confused Monday when they heard that portions of the school would be blocked off so construction crews could begin scheduled asbestos removal.

According to Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann, a letter from his office was distributed to parents of Enfield High students and school staff on Dec. 23, outlining construction work related to asbestos removal that would begin on Jan. 2, as part of the ongoing renovation at the high school.

Some parents took to Facebook, asking Mayor Scott Kaupin why they weren’t notified.

Ken Kaufman, who has a daughter at Enfield High School, said he found out about the asbestos work when his daughter’s boyfriend, who is on the wrestling team, told her they moved their practice and that the school was boarded up.

“I haven’t heard anything about the asbestos cleanup to this day,” Kaufman said Wednesday. “We get these robo-calls for the upcoming school play or something to that effect, but something as serious as this, they still haven’t told anyone about it or haven’t had the time to put something together for parents.”

Another Enfield High School parent, Lindsay Caouette, said she wasn’t notified either.

“At this point, there has still been no communication home regarding the work being done with our children in the school, which is concerning to me,” Caouette said.

Three locations, according to the letter, will be blocked off for asbestos abatement: the cafeteria, girls locker room and lower-level kitchen and mechanical spaces.

Parents were further confused when they received communication that the asbestos removal was due to a burst pipe in the “A” wing of the school.

Schumann said that a pipe did leak on the third floor of the “A” wing and caused flooding on the first, second and third floors. When the tiles on those floors began to dry, he said, crews noticed that the tiles — vinyl asbestos tiles — started to lift off the floor. If they cracked, Schumann said, “that could have been a dangerous situation.”

Schumann said the crews that were already at the school to remove the asbestos in the three previously scheduled areas worked on the worked on the areas affected by the flooding instead.

Schumann said a hard copy of the letter was distributed to students on Dec. 23, and teachers and staff were notified.

Due to the ongoing work, an updated letter will go home with students Thursday, Schumann said. The dates of the work have altered due to the burst pipe, Schumann said. The updated letter will also be posted on the school website, he said, and parents were to receive a phone call Wednesday night.

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

Excerpt from: 

Asbestos Work At Enfield High Confuses Parents, Who Say They Weren't Notified

Tough new ACT government rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe. Photo: Karleen Minney

The ACT government’s new rules for builders and asbestos handlers began to be introduced on Thursday, making formal training mandatory for those taking part on the territory’s mammoth battle with asbestos.

After a year of controversy over the handling of loose asbestos fibres in the capital’s 1021 Mr Fluffy homes, the new rules were endorsed in industry codes on Thursday after they were first announced in November.

The key changes close up more loopholes in the ACT laws, allowing unlicensed people to handle asbestos.

“In the other states and territories [in some specific cases] it can be dealt with by a ‘competent person’ and we have removed that and in our case it must be done by a licensed assessor,” Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said.

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Another of these loopholes is one that allowed builders to remove up to 10-square-metres of bonded asbestos from homes from the start of 2015.

The old rules were designed so builders could deal with small jobs such as removing asbestos wallboard for bathroom renovations.

The removal of bonded asbestos will now have to be done by a licensed asbestos removalist.

The changes also lift the qualifications and training required to assess and remove asbestos.

Applicants for licences will have additional requirements to apply for and keep licences.

Mr McCabe said the introduction would improve worker protections. “I would call it Work Health and Safety regulations plus, we’ve taken the ones from around the country and strengthened them in some key areas largely because of our experiences with Mr Fluffy,” Mr McCabe said.

This also means that from January 1, the ACT was brought into line with other states and territories, making it easier for outside workers and companies to work in the ACT.

This is because the rules move asbestos handling to the Work Health and Safety Act which Mr McCabe said has now been harmonised around the country.

“So it brings our regulations and our code of practise in line, and it makes it easier for us to regulator assessors and removalists who come in from interstate,” he said.

Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Mick Gentleman is expected to endorse the two improved codes on Friday.

He said the codes would “provide practical advice” to industry on meeting higher asbestos standards.

“The new safety laws focus on equipping industry professionals, regulators and the community with the information, education and oversight needed to prevent people being exposed to asbestos,” Mr Gentleman said.

The crackdown on handling of asbestos in homes will come into play at various points from January 1.

Back in October Employment Minister Eric Abetz announced that the Commonwealth would lend the ACT government government $1 billion to to buy back and demolish the homes containing Mr Fluffy asbestos.

Two hundred homes are set to be demolished a year for the next five years from January 2015, and soft furnishings in houses will also have to be destroyed.

Link – 

Tough new ACT government rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

Tough new ACT goverment rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe. Photo: Karleen Minney

The ACT government’s new rules for builders and asbestos handlers began to be introduced on Thursday, making formal training mandatory for those taking part on the territory’s mammoth battle with asbestos.

After a year of controversy over the handling of loose asbestos fibres in the capital’s 1021 Mr Fluffy homes, the new rules were endorsed in industry codes on Thursday after they were first announced in November.

The key changes close up more loopholes in the ACT laws, allowing unlicensed people to handle asbestos.

“In the other states and territories [in some specific cases] it can be dealt with by a ‘competent person’ and we have removed that and in our case it must be done by a licensed assessor,” Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said.

Advertisement

Another of these loopholes is one that allowed builders to remove up to 10-square-metres of bonded asbestos from homes from the start of 2015.

The old rules were designed so builders could deal with small jobs such as removing asbestos wallboard for bathroom renovations.

The removal of bonded asbestos will now have to be done by a licensed asbestos removalist.

The changes also lift the qualifications and training required to assess and remove asbestos.

Applicants for licences will have additional requirements to apply for and keep licences.

Mr McCabe said the introduction would improve worker protections. “I would call it Work Health and Safety regulations plus, we’ve taken the ones from around the country and strengthened them in some key areas largely because of our experiences with Mr Fluffy,” Mr McCabe said.

This also means that from January 1, the ACT was brought into line with other states and territories, making it easier for outside workers and companies to work in the ACT.

This is because the rules move asbestos handling to the Work Health and Safety Act which Mr McCabe said has now been harmonised around the country.

“So it brings our regulations and our code of practise in line, and it makes it easier for us to regulator assessors and removalists who come in from interstate,” he said.

Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Mick Gentleman is expected to endorse the two improved codes on Friday.

He said the codes would “provide practical advice” to industry on meeting higher asbestos standards.

“The new safety laws focus on equipping industry professionals, regulators and the community with the information, education and oversight needed to prevent people being exposed to asbestos,” Mr Gentleman said.

The crackdown on handling of asbestos in homes will come into play at various points from January 1.

Back in October Employment Minister Eric Abetz announced that the Commonwealth would lend the ACT government government $1 billion to to buy back and demolish the homes containing Mr Fluffy asbestos.

Two hundred homes are set to be demolished a year for the next five years from January 2015, and soft furnishings in houses will also have to be destroyed.

See the original article here – 

Tough new ACT goverment rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

New York Mesothelioma Attorneys Make History with $7.7M Asbestos Verdict

New York mesothelioma attorneys

New York mesothelioma attorneys Amber R. Long and Keith W. Binder

SYRACUSE, New York (PRWEB) December 23, 2014

Levy Konigsberg LLP (“LK”) attorneys Amber R. Long and Keith W. Binder made history last Friday after obtaining a jury’s verdict against Navistar, Inc. (“Navistar”), for $7.7 Million on behalf of mesothelioma victim Lewis Nash (1). The verdict is recognized as the largest amount awarded in Syracuse’s history for a case of its type.

According to the evidence presented in court, Mr. Nash was exposed to asbestos on a regular basis for more than thirty years through his work as a bus driver for the Fayetteville-Manlius School District, a burden that ultimately took his life in September 2012 at the age of 81. It was his exposure to asbestos in the school district’s bus garage, where mechanics performed routine maintenance on Navistar school buses, which led to the fatal cancer.

Court documents reveal that Navistar, formerly known as International Harvester, sold school buses to Fayetteville-Manlius that consisted of asbestos-containing brakes, gaskets, and clutches. From his commencement as a bus driver in the late 1950s, Manlius-native Lewis Nash could regularly be found in the garage clocking in for his routes, submitting work orders, or holding conversations with the mechanics. Through his presence in the garage, Mr. Nash was exposed to asbestos that had been released into the air by work performed on the asbestos-containing bus parts.

The trial against Navistar began on December 4, 2014, and included testimony by the plaintiff’s family and expert witnesses. After deliberating upon the evidence, the jury found Navistar to be responsible for Mr. Nash’s death. Damages awarded to Mr. Nash’s wife, Mary, were in recognition of both the physical and emotional hardships experienced by Mr. Nash during his battle with mesothelioma, as well as lost services incurred by Mrs. Nash.

Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally-recognized asbestos litigation firm specializing in the representation of mesothelioma and lung cancer victims for close to 30 years. With offices in New York City, Albany, and White Plains, NY, the firm has an extensive history of securing record-setting awards and landmark court victories on behalf of families affected by asbestos diseases throughout the State, including Upstate New York. For example, in 2008, LK obtained a verdict ($5 Million) in a mesothelioma lawsuit (2) in Upstate NY on behalf of a man exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy.

For more information about this verdict, please contact New York mesothelioma attorneys Amber Long or Keith Binder at 1-800-MESO-LAW (1-800-637-6529) or by submitting an email inquiry at http://www.levylaw.com.

(1) Lewis Nash v. A.W. Chesterton Co., Inc., et al., No. 2012-719 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Onondaga County);

(2) Douglas Pokorney v. Foster Wheeler, No. 2006-3087 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Onondaga County).


See more here:  

New York Mesothelioma Attorneys Make History with $7.7M Asbestos Verdict

Abandoned asbestos mines still a hazard in India

RORO VILLAGE, India (AP) — Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind.

In Roro Village and other settlements below, people who never worked in the mines are dying of lung disease. Yet in a country that treats asbestos as a savior that provides cheap building materials for the poor, no one knows the true number and few care to ask.

“I feel weak, drained all the time,” Baleman Sundi gasped, pushing the words out before she lost her breath. “But I must work.” The 65-year-old paused, inhaled. “I don’t have a choice.” Another gasp. “I have to eat.”

Sundi and 17 others from a clutch of impoverished villages near the abandoned hilltop mines were diagnosed in 2012 with asbestosis, a fatal lung disease. One has since died. Tens of thousands more remain untested and at risk. Asbestos makes up as much as 14.3 percent of the soil around Roro Village, analysis of samples gathered by The Associated Press showed.

The 17 surviving patients are suing in the country’s environmental court for cleanup, compensation and a fund for future victims. If they win, the case would set precedents for workplace safety and corporate liability, both often ignored in India.

Neither the government nor the Indian company that ran the mines from 1963 to 1983 has made any move to clean up the estimated 700,000 tons of asbestos tailings and debris left scattered across several kilometers (miles) of hilly mining area.

“The company had followed all rules and procedures for closure of a mine and had complied with the provisions of the law, as in force in 1983,” a spokesman for Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products Ltd., now known as HIL Ltd., told AP.

India placed a moratorium on asbestos mining in 1986, acknowledging it was hazardous to miners. But that was the government’s last decision curtailing the spread of asbestos. It has since embraced the mineral as a cheap building material. Today, India is the world’s fastest-growing market for asbestos.

India keeps no statistics on how many people have been sickened or died from exposure to asbestos, which industry and many government officials insist is safe when mixed with cement.

Western medical experts strongly disagree.

The World Health Organization and more than 50 countries, including the U.S. and all of Europe, say it should be banned in all forms. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause many diseases. The International Labor Organization estimates 100,000 people die every year from workplace exposure.

“My greatest concern is what will happen in India. It’s a slow-moving disaster, and this is only the beginning,” said Philip Landrigan, a prominent New York epidemiologist.

From the top of Roro Hill, a small boy leaped out to slide down the cascade of fluffy grey dust. A few villagers followed, nudging a herd of cows and goats. Huge clouds billowed in their wake.

The villagers often ignore the warnings from visiting doctors or activists to stay away from the waste. Many just don’t believe dust and rocks could be dangerous. Others are more fatalistic.

“We tell the children, don’t go there. But they are children, you cannot control them,” said 56-year-old Jema Sundi, diagnosed with asbestosis though she never went into the mines.

She then noticed her 4-year-old nephew Vijay, his tiny body covered with chalky white streaks, shrinking into himself as if trying to disappear. “You went up there today again?” she exclaimed.

Vijay, lowering his head, attempted a half-smile.

“It’s heartbreaking. Kids are playing on it. People are stirring it up. You don’t have to inhale much to put a cap on your life,” said Richard Fuller of the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based watchdog that estimates 50,000 people could be at risk.

Hydrabad Asbestos employed about 1,500 people in the Roro asbestos mines in Jharkhand state.

The company said it followed strict health and safety policies, and “no health or environmental damage was reported during the mine operations.” It did not say if it sent anyone to check on the villagers’ health after the mines closed. Villagers told the AP they were never invited for a company-sponsored checkup after 1983.

The fact that Sundi and the other plaintiffs had the opportunity for a diagnosis was rare. Like most living near Roro Hill, they cannot read or write.

“The idea that the environment, something that has always provided and been taken for granted, could be causing them harm is a notion that just doesn’t occur to them,” said T.K. Joshi, a doctor who heads India’s only university department specializing in occupational health. “And unfortunately, most Indian doctors are not trained to ask the right questions.”

Activists, doctors and lawyers have described an almost Kafkaesque effort to hold the government and company accountable over the past decade.

At the time the mines were open, Jharkhand state didn’t even exist. The land was part of a wider Bihar state, with its capital and paperwork held in a different city. Neither state has been able to produce the 30-year-old documents about the mine’s closure.

“As far as environmental issues are concerned, we have already dealt with it,” said Jharkhand’s Mining Secretary Arun, who uses only one name.

In 2012, an activist group selected 150 Roro-area villagers for chest X-rays. The plates were examined by Dr. V. Murlidhar, an occupational health specialist, who confirmed 18 had the tell-tale honeycomb pattern that denotes asbestosis.

The results were not surprising, he said, and “more cases are likely” because asbestosis develops over decades of exposure.

Lawyer Krishnendu Mukherjee, who is spearheading the case, has high hopes for a judgment that awards the plaintiffs and future claimants with generous compensation.

A strong verdict, he said, will tell companies such as HIL that “it’s not permissible to simply leave a mine, a factory, whatever it is, in a state of abandonment.”

___

Unabridged story: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/katy-daigle

___

Follow Katy Daigle on Twitter at twitter.com/katydaigle

Source – 

Abandoned asbestos mines still a hazard in India

Forgotten asbestos mine sickens Indian villagers

RORO VILLAGE, India (AP) — Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages that are home to thousands in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind.

In Roro Village and nearby settlements, people who never worked in the mines are dying of lung disease. Yet in a country that treats asbestos as a savior that provides cheap building materials for the poor, no one knows the true number and few care to ask.

“I feel weak, drained all the time,” Baleman Sundi gasped, pushing the words out before she lost her breath. “But I must work.” The 65-year-old paused, inhaled. “I don’t have a choice.” Another gasp. “I have to eat.”

Sundi and 17 others from a clutch of impoverished villages near the abandoned hilltop mines were diagnosed in 2012 with asbestosis, a fatal lung disease. One has since died. Tens of thousands more, some of them former mine workers, remain untested and at risk. Asbestos makes up as much as 14.3 percent of the soil around Roro Village, analysis of samples gathered by The Associated Press showed.

Few have done anything to help people such as Sundi. The villagers have no money for doctors or medical treatment, and cannot afford to move.

Neither the government nor the Indian company that ran the mines from 1963 to 1983 has made any move to clean up the estimated 700,000 tons of asbestos tailings left scattered across several kilometers (miles) of hilly mining area.

The mine’s operator, Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products Ltd., nowadays known as HIL Ltd., says it has done nothing illegal.

“The company had followed all rules and procedures for closure of a mine and had complied with the provisions of the law, as in force in 1983,” it said in a statement released to the AP.

Sundi and the others are suing in the country’s environmental court for cleanup, compensation and a fund for future victims of asbestos-related disease. If they win, the case would set precedents for workplace safety and corporate liability, subjects often ignored or dismissed in developing India.

“There will be justice only if we win,” Sundi rasped. “Whoever did this must pay.”

India placed a moratorium on asbestos mining in 1986, acknowledging that the fibrous mineral was hazardous to the miners.

But that was the government’s last decision curtailing the spread of asbestos. It has since embraced the mineral as a cheap building material. Today India is the world’s fastest-growing market for asbestos.

In the last five years, India’s asbestos imports shot up 300 percent. The government helps the $2 billion asbestos manufacturing industry with low tariffs on imports. It has also blocked asbestos from being listed as a hazardous substance under the international Rotterdam Convention governing how dangerous chemicals are handled.

The country keeps no statistics on how many people have been sickened or died from exposure to the mineral, which industry and many government officials insist is safe when mixed with cement.

Western scientists strongly disagree.

The World Health Organization and more than 50 countries, including the United States and all of Europe, say it should be banned in all forms. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause many diseases. The International Labor Organization estimates 100,000 people die every year from workplace exposure, and experts believe thousands more die from exposure elsewhere.

“My greatest concern is what will happen in India. It’s a slow-moving disaster, and this is only the beginning,” said Philip Landrigan, a New York epidemiologist who heads the Rome-based Collegium Ramazzini, which pioneered the field of occupational health worldwide.

“The epidemic will go largely unrecognized,” he said. Eventually, “it’s going to end up costing India billions of dollars.”

From the top of Roro Hill, a small boy leaped out to slide down the cascade of fluffy grey dust. A few villagers followed, nudging a herd of cows and goats. Huge clouds billowed in their wake.

The villagers often ignore the warnings from visiting doctors and activists to stay away from the waste. Many don’t believe the asbestos, which looks like regular rocks and dirt, could be dangerous. Others are more fatalistic, noting they hardly have a choice.

“What can we do? This is our land,” said 56-year-old Jema Sundi, diagnosed with asbestosis though she never went into the mines. “We tell the children, don’t go there. But they are children, you cannot control them.”

She then noticed her 4-year-old nephew Vijay, his tiny body covered with chalky white streaks, shrinking into himself as if trying to disappear. “You went up there today again?” she exclaimed.

Vijay, lowering his head, attempted a half-smile.

When Hyderabad Asbestos first began mining in Jharkhand in 1963, India was in its second decade of independence and attempting to industrialize. Most services and industries were nationalized, but some heavy industries and mining were opened to private companies, many of which operated opaquely.

Hydrabad Asbestos employed about 1,500 people in the asbestos mines. Most were tribal villagers eager to participate in the country’s development. But for them that development never arrived.

Kalyan Bansingh, lead plaintiff in the court case, worked more than a decade building scaffolding inside newly blasted mining caverns. Like many laborers across India, he took to chewing an unrefined sugar product called jaggery in the misguided belief that airborne fibers would adhere to the sticky bolus and stay out of his lungs.

Sometimes the company provided the jaggery along with his $2 weekly salary, but it never offered him protective masks or clothing, he said.

Bansingh regrets the job, even if it was the only paid work he ever had. “I can’t run or walk long distances. I am breathless with just a few steps,” the muscular 70-year-old said.

HIL said it followed strict health and safety policies, and that “no health or environmental damage was reported during the mine operations.” The company did not address whether it had ever sent anyone to check on the villagers’ health since the mines closed. Villagers told AP they were never been invited for a company-sponsored checkup after 1983.

The fact that Bansingh and the other plaintiffs ever had the opportunity for a diagnosis was extremely rare. Like most people in villages at the foot of Roro Hill, they cannot read or write. They live in makeshift homes of hard-packed mud, thatched roofs and tidily swept dirt floors.

“The idea that the environment, something that has always provided and been taken for granted, could be causing them harm is a notion that just doesn’t occur to them,” said T.K. Joshi, a doctor who heads India’s only university department specializing in occupational health. “And unfortunately, most Indian doctors are not trained to ask the right questions.”

Because X-rays and detailed patient interviews are rare in rural India, experts say most Indians who suffer or have died from an asbestos-related disease were likely misdiagnosed with tuberculosis, food poisoning or other illnesses common across India.

Now India’s largest asbestos-manufacturing company, HIL had revenue of about $160 million for 2013-14, while spending about $72 million on imports of asbestos from countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Brazil. It plans to scale back manufacturing asbestos-cement products, but the decision was not made for environmental or health concerns.

According to its annual report, the company is diversifying because the “closure of certain mines across the world has resulted in increased dependency on limited sources.”

Shutting down asbestos mines is a dirty and costly business. There is also the danger of releasing more fibers into the air just by disturbing waste or breaking down old materials. Hundreds of millions have been spent in the United States alone cleaning old asbestos mines in states including California and Montana.

The samples collected by AP and tested by California-based laboratory EMSL Analytical Inc. showed the soil around Roro Village was between 4.1 and 14.3 percent asbestos.

“It’s heartbreaking. Kids are playing on it. People are stirring it up. You don’t have to inhale much to put a cap on your life,” said Richard Fuller, CEO of the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based watchdog that estimates 50,000 people could be at risk.

Other, smaller asbestos mines in states including Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have also been left in a state of neglect similar to Roro’s, mining activists say.

Activists, medical workers and lawyers have described an almost Kafkaesque effort to hold the government and company accountable over the past decade, with both declaring the mine closed and subject settled long ago.

At the time the mines were open, Jharkhand state didn’t even exist. The land was part of a wider Bihar state, with its capital and official paperwork held in a different city. Neither state has been able to produce the 30-year-old documents pertaining to the mine’s closure.

“As far as environmental issues are concerned, we have already dealt with it,” Jharkhand state’s Mining Secretary Arun, who uses only one name, told AP.

In 2012, an activist group selected 150 Roro-area villagers for chest X-rays. The X-ray plates were examined by Dr. V. Murlidhar, an occupational health specialist, who confirmed 18 had the tell-tale honeycomb pattern of opaqueness that denotes asbestosis.

The results were neither surprising nor unique, he said. “More cases are likely” because asbestosis usually develops over decades of exposure, he said.

Across all of India, only 30 people have ever received marginal compensation — through out-of-court settlements — for asbestos-related disease out of hundreds of thousands of workers who have handled asbestos since the 1960s or lived near mines or manufacturing plants.

Lawyer Krishnendu Mukherjee, who is spearheading the case, has high hopes for a judgment that awards the plaintiffs and future claimants with generous compensation.

A strong verdict, he said, “sends a very strong message out to companies like HIL Ltd. that it’s not permissible to simply leave a mine, a factory, whatever it is, in a state of abandonment without looking at the repercussions on the local population or on the workers.”

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Forgotten asbestos mine sickens Indian villagers