February 23, 2019

Asbestos mining: National Green Tribunal raps MoEF for vague response

NEW DELHI: Perturbed by illegal and unscientific asbestos mining across the country, the

National Green Tribunal

today pulled up the Environment Ministry (MoEF) for providing a “vague and uncertain” response.

A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, made the observation after going through an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests(MoEF) and fixed the matter for further consideration on December 23.

“None of the affidavits is specific as to what steps have been taken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests or any other authority of the State to answer a question as to whether any asbestos mining was being carried on in any part of the State or not. Affidavit filed by the MoEF is vague and uncertain.

“It is undisputable that asbestos mining activity is considered hazardous and causes serious environmental and health hazard including dangerous diseases like cancer etc. We are constrained to observe that concerned Ministry and appropriate authorities of the state are expected to exercise their power to prevent and control degradation of environment and harm to public health,” the bench said.

The Tribunal also directed C S Thakur, MoEF Under Secretary, to be present and produce complete records in relation to asbestos mining.

“He is also directed to obtain complete data on physical inspection from all the states i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Telengana, Jharkhand and Karnataka. This data should be collected from the concerned state governments, mining departments and respective Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees,” the bench added.

The Tribunal was hearing pleas by NGO Environics Trust and Amar Singh seeeking directions to appropriate authorities to immediately stop all asbestos mining operations in the country and ensure their scientific closure.

It has also sought a direction to Indian Bureau of Mines, Department of Mines and Geology and State Pollution Control Boards of different states to restore and reclaim abandoned mining in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

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Asbestos mining: National Green Tribunal raps MoEF for vague response

Excavator fined for sending dust into air from Mpls. building containing asbestos

A Minneapolis demolition company has paid a fine for sending clouds of dust into nearby businesses from the portion of a late-1800s Warehouse District building that excavators knew contained asbestos.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on Tuesday announced payment of a $10,000 penalty by Ramsey Excavating for using improper procedures in the spring of 2013 to remove and contain the asbestos-holding materials while tearing down the 119-year-old building at 643 N. 5th St., down the street from Target Field.

Al Ramsey, president of the 15-year-old company, pointed out Wednesday that “it was not confirmed” that the dust actually contained asbestos. “The only thing that caused the fine was the visible emissions,” Ramsey added.

Sean O’Connor, who represented the MPCA during the visit, said it was not his duty to address whether the dust actually contained asbestos, adding that “there was no analytic sampling of the dust” conducted for the carcinogen.

MPCA spokeswoman Alexis Donath said, “We don’t know about the content of the dust that Sean observed.”

She added that it’s too late to do an analysis at this point: “The dust is gone.”

According to the MPCA, during the inspection on April 29 at the three-story site, where Northern Auto Parts had operated until 2009, O’Connor saw the dust generated during demolition coming from one area of the building and blowing into the adjoining street and neighboring businesses.

Before the demolition, which was to make way for high-density housing, Ramsey Excavating told the MPCA that asbestos-containing materials — such as pipe and boiler insulation — were in that area of the building.

Asbestos has long been known to be a carcinogen, in particular causing mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lung lining. The contractor was spraying water on to the debris with a single fire hose, but that was inadequate in preventing the dust from blowing away from the site, the MPCA said.

O’Connor also saw that a pile of debris that included asbestos-containing materials was not being processed for disposal in a timely manner. That pile had lingered for four days, the agency said.

In addition to paying the fine, Ramsey Excavating also agreed to use proper containment practices in the future and to manage asbestos-containing materials and debris in a timely manner.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482


Excavator fined for sending dust into air from Mpls. building containing asbestos

Te Puna contractor fined for burning asbestos

A Te Puna earthworks and rubbish removal company and its owner were convicted and fined $16,400 in Tauranga District Court this week for discharging and burning asbestos, treated timber and other contaminants.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Contour Limited and owner Stephen Mark Miller for the offence, which happened in January at the defendant’s premises in Waikaraka Drive East, Te Puna.

In January The Relocatable House Company asked Mr Miller to demolish and remove several structures from a Bellevue property, including a workshop, fence and a garage clad with cement board.

He took roofing iron to a recycling company, tyres to a tip and removed three truckloads of demolition waste which he burned at his own property. Later that week the Regional Council received a complaint that a contractor had disposed of asbestos in an unapproved place.

A Regional Council officer saw a large pile of demolition waste at the property, including polystyrene, treated timber, electrical wire, pastic, cement board, laserlight sheeting, greenwaste and tyres. Some of the waste had been buried and some burned. Samples taken at the property were found to contain white asbestos, brown asbestos, arsenic and copper.

Miller told the officer he had not worked with asbestos before and did not know the rules on dumping waste, but knew about special requirements for disposing of asbestos. He did not have a consent for the waste, but knew it was illegal to burn plastic, electrical wire and treated timber.

The court heard that asbestos in cement board was not particularly hazardous but if it became fragmented the risk increased. While burial was the proper disposal method, some areas of New Zealand had large quantities buried which became a problem when land was later converted to residential use.

Proper removal of asbestos cement board includes spraying it with PVA glue and water, breaking it as little as possible, wrapping it in plastic sheeting and removing it in plastic-lined bins and disposing of it at an approved site.

A total of 821 asbestos-related diseases were recorded in New Zealand in the past 12 years, including lung cancers and asbestosis, according to the Asbestos Diseases Association of NZ’s annual report.

Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Nick Zaman said the Regional Council was concerned about the increasing number of illegal waste disposal cases, particularly those involving asbestos.

“This is a local and national problem. The increasing costs of waste disposal and more stringent earthquake-strengthening requirements means that some demolition and waste disposal contractors are taking the risk of disposing of waste illegally to get their business ahead of their competitors,” he said.

“By disposing of asbestos and other hazardous waste unlawfully, some contractors are putting themselves and the wider community at risk. They are also putting future users of affected land at risk. Many reputable demolition contractors in the Bay of Plenty now routinely engage asbestos specialists to confirm whether or not buildings contain asbestos.

“Anyone arranging demolition or renovation work should ensure that steps are taken to confirm whether asbestos is involved and if so, use a reputable company. The cheapest quote is not always the safest option,” Mr Zaman said.

This article: 

Te Puna contractor fined for burning asbestos

Settlement reached in Vt. asbestos mine cleanup

EDEN, Vt. (AP) — A settlement has been reached with the owner of a former asbestos mine in northern Vermont to help cover the costs of some pollution controls.

Vermont Asbestos Group also has agreed to pursue $3.5 million in insurance money that could help pay for maintenance and operation of pollution controls at the former mine in Eden and Lowell.

According to court papers filed this week, the company will pay $50,000 to the state of Vermont over the next 10 years, aside from the possible insurance money, the Burlington Free Press reported (http://bfpne.ws/GVeADo ).

‘‘Settling defendant shall not use the site, or such other real property, in any manner that EPA or the state determines will pose an unacceptable risk to human health or to the environment due to exposure to (asbestos) waste material,’’ the document said.

The asbestos mine, located on 1,500 acres along Belvidere Mountain, operated in the two towns for nearly a century. It closed in 1993 after scientists determined that airborne asbestos fibers caused cancer. When it closed, it left behind 30 tons of trails or debris containing asbestos.


Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

© Copyright 2013 Globe Newspaper Company.


Settlement reached in Vt. asbestos mine cleanup

Asbestos turns library into white elephant

The facility turned into a white elephant in 2003 after the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services (DBES) found that the roofing had asbestos, which posed a health hazard to employees and users.”The building has been non-operational because it is worn out, and the asbestos roof poses a health hazard. The building is awaiting renovation so that it can be used as the Gaborone Public Library,” BNLS deputy director Gaorere Kgotla said.

Responding to a questionnaire sent a month ago, BNLS said the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, under which public libraries fall, and relevant stakeholders are working on documentation for a tender for Expression of Interest (EOI), through which the most qualifying specialist will be engaged for the removal and disposal of the fibrous material. The concerned departments are Waste Management and Pollution Control, the Environmental Health Division and the Environmental Health Division of the Gaborone City Council.

Kgotla emphasized the need for due care when removing and disposing of the material because it may cause serious health complications to the occupants in the surrounding areas. The library was opened in the 1970s. At the time, it served as a public library, head-office and national reference library. In 1978, the Gaborone public library relocated to the Gaborone City Council premises.

The BNLS could not disclose the cost of building this library opting to state that it was built through a donor agency, neither could they estimate the cost of renovating it. “We are however not in a position to disclose the estimated costs as the technical unit is still preparing the tender documentation which includes project estimates,” Kgotla said. The BNLS says the facility was used for the provision of reading material for the National Reference Library and as an administration block for corporate services and the bibliographic support services division.

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Asbestos turns library into white elephant