The verdict to conclude the Eternit asbestos disaster trial in Italy has finally been handed down, with former company owner Stephan Schmidheiny and major shareholder Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne each receiving 16-year prison sentences.
Coinciding with the announcement of the verdict in the groundbreaking asbestos case, “Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial,” compiled and edited by David Allen and Laurie Kazan-Allen, has been released and is now available at WorldAsbestosReport.org.
Detailing the Eternit scandal from the beginning with in-depth coverage of the corporation’s activities in Casale Monferrato, the book offers a rare glimpse into one of the most devastating environmental disasters in recent memory.
Eternit, a manufacturer of fiber cement, built its factory in Casale Monferrato in 1906, but it wasn’t until decades later that it become widely known that thousands of workers and people in the area had been exposed to asbestos, leaving a vast number of victims. The effects of this disaster are still being felt today.
From the factories to the courtroom, Eternit’s rise and fall documented
As it has been proven for decades that exposure to asbestos can have serious consequences for individuals – including the development of lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma – Eternit ultimately declared bankruptcy in 1986. It would be another six years before asbestos use was banned in Italy.
In the book, David Allen and Laurie Kazan-Allen include a number of interviews offering unique perspectives on the Eternit trial. These conversations give insight into the various twists and turns throughout the trial, particularly the attempts by Schmidheiny to settle claims with various cities, including Casale Monferrato. Though it was reported weeks before the verdict that Casale’s mayor was considering a deal, the town ultimately decided against it, paving the way for the Swiss billionaire’s sentencing earlier this week.
Despite verdict, asbestos fight not nearly over
In addition to the Eternit trial in Italy, “Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial” details the wide-ranging impact that the asbestos disaster had on victims in other countries, including France, the Netherlands and Brazil, among others.
The lasting impact on these number of countries serves as a poignant reminder to the rest of the world that as the use of asbestos continues – particularly in developing countries – the Eternit verdict is only one step in the process of eliminating diseases that the World Health Organization estimates kill approximately 107,000 people across the globe each year.