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July 19, 2018

Council to give asbestos DIY advice


Council to give asbestos DIY advice


LOIS CAIRNS

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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Council to give asbestos DIY advice

Asbestos cancer payouts 'not enough'

Chest X-rayMesothelioma is a form of cancer which can take decades to develop

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Campaigners have expressed fears thousands could miss out under a new compensation scheme for those with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

The Queen’s Speech included a scheme to help those with the disease, which is usually contracted in the workplace, who cannot trace their insurer.

But campaigners said victims of other asbestos-related conditions would miss out and criticised a cap on payouts.

Ministers said the scheme was a “major breakthrough” for victims.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of internal organs, notably the lungs, and almost always arises from exposure to asbestos.

People do not develop symptoms of the disease until about 30 or 40 years after exposure and there is no known cure.

‘Fait accompli’

Cases in the UK have been rising in recent years, with official figures showing about 2,400 die each year from the disease.


Case Study: Larrie Lewington

Larrie and Rebecca Lewington

Larrie Lewington, 65, from Eynsham, Oxfordshire, was exposed to asbestos in his 20s while working as a lagger.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2012, so he will be eligible for compensation under the new scheme, but his daughter Rebecca told the BBC the 70% cap on compensation was “insulting”.

She said: “When my dad was working with asbestos the government at the time knew it was dangerous and they need to take some responsibility.

“For them to do this scheme and then say they are going to cap it is incredible. It’s insulting.

“My dad worked his whole life, paid all his taxes and his national insurance, and he never borrowed a penny. Now, through no fault of his own, he’s got this disease.

“It’s been devastating. We’re a very close family and it’s ruined our lives.

“I wish I could go into Parliament and face them and they could see the pure pain that I’ve got.

“It’s as good as murder what they’ve done, allowing this substance to be used and now, to put it bluntly, it is going to kill my dad.”

Because of the delay in developing symptoms, some workers who were negligently exposed to asbestos at work find it difficult to trace an employer or insurer who is liable to pay compensation.

On Wednesday, the government announced a Mesothelioma Bill, which will set up a payment scheme aimed at addressing this “market failure”.

The proposal is to offer all victims using the scheme a flat-rate payout set at 70% of the average compensation paid out by insurers to those victims not using the scheme.

It will be paid for by a levy on insurance companies which provide employers’ liability and is expected to cost the insurance industry £300m over the next 10 years while helping more than 300 sufferers a year.

But campaigners say the scheme does not go far enough in compensating victims, and thousands who suffer from other asbestos related diseases, such asbestosis and pleural thickening, will not receive anything.

The proposed 70% cap on compensation is also a “red line” for campaigners.

Tony Whitston, chairman of the Asbestos Victims Support Group, said: “What appears to be a great deal brokered by government, and costing the insurance industry a small fortune, is in reality something entirely different.

“This scheme excludes 50% of asbestos victims, pays ‘average’ compensation only to victims dying from the cancer mesothelioma and then slashes average compensation by 30%.

“This scheme is not what we expected. It was presented as a fait accompli to asbestos victims and saves the insurance industry a small fortune at huge cost to asbestos victims.

“The bill needs to be unpicked and repackaged if the victims’ best interests are going to be truly at its heart.”

‘Life is a mess’

There have also been concerns that only those who are diagnosed after 25 July 2012, when the government first announced details of the scheme, will be eligible for compensation.

Arthur Butts, an electrician who is now his 70s and was diagnosed with the disease two years ago, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there was “no sense” in the cut-off point.


Mesothelioma facts

  • Deaths from mesothelioma continue to increase in the UK
  • Most deaths occurring now are a legacy of past occupational exposures to asbestos when it was widely used in the building industry
  • The number of mesothelioma deaths has increased from 153 in 1968 to 2,347 in 2010
  • Annual deaths are expected peak in 2016
  • High risk jobs include carpenters, plumbers, electricians, pipe fitters and metal workers

Source: Health and Safety Executive

“I feel a bit cross about it,” he said. “I feel it’s discrimination on a large scale.”

“I think the compensation could come in full from when you were diagnosed. If they had the disease they’d be a little bit more understanding.”

The effect of the disease on his life had been “terrible”, he said.

“I’m not living a normal life. I can’t do anything. If I exert myself anything other than walking up the garden I have to have a five minute sit down to take a breath.

“Life is just a mess.”

The British Lung Foundation said it would seek to amend the bill to ensure a “long-term, sustainable research fund” is set up to find a cure for mesothelioma.

‘Devastating disease’

It said “a shamefully small amount” was spent on research – only £400,000 in 2011, compared with £11.5m spent on lung cancer.

But Otto Thoresen, director general of the Association of British Insurers, welcomed the bill saying: “The insurance industry wants to do all it can to help sufferers and has worked with the government on this package of measures that will deliver help to claimants much faster, including to those who would otherwise go uncompensated.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The mesothelioma support scheme will be a major breakthrough for the many victims of this terrible disease – who have been failed by successive governments and the insurance industry for many years.

‪”It will end the injustice that means many victims and their families do not receive compensation and it will help around 3,000 people over the next 10 years as we reach the forecast peak in cases.

“We urgently announced the scheme in July last year to ensure as many people as possible will be covered.”

Taken from:  

Asbestos cancer payouts 'not enough'