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jeffrey asbestos mine

Health Organizations, Asbestos Groups Speak Out Against Jeffrey Mine Revival

Asbestos, Quebec

Asbestos, Quebec

The controversial decision of the Quebec government to offer a $58 million loan to investors to revive one of the few remaining asbestos mines in Canada has been heavily scrutinized by asbestos victim support groups and health organizations alike.

According to Reuters, the decision to allow the investor group – headlined by Quebec-based Balcorp Ltd. – to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos mine in the aptly named town of Asbestos could ultimately extend the site’s life by more than two decades.

Financial issues have plagued the asbestos mine, which is more than 130 years old but has run on-and-off over the past few years, the news source said. Still, Canada remains one of the largest exporters of chrysotile asbestos in the world, according to Reuters.

Public health specialist rails against ‘exploitation’

The Quebec government’s controversial move has sent shock waves through the scientific community, particularly as exposure to asbestos has been proven for decades to lead to the development of serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.

Yv Bonnier Viger, the head of Quebec’s association of public health specialists, told The Globe and Mail that Premier Jean Charest “has good reason to be ashamed” after giving the go-ahead for the loan.

“He is relaunching the exploitation of an extremely dangerous material that will cause the suffering and death of thousands of people in poor countries, at only marginal benefit to a desperate community,” Viger noted.

Viger is no doubt alluding to countries such as India, where a large percentage of Canada’s asbestos is exported. These developing countries continue to use asbestos as a building material despite the dangerous risks.

Asbestos no laughing matter

Paul Lapierre, vice president public affairs and cancer control for the Canadian Cancer Society, added that the revitalization of the Jeffrey mine “is in direct conflict with global cancer control.” According to the World Health Organization, asbestos-related illnesses claim the lives of approximately 107,000 people across the globe each year.

Unfortunately, some individuals are not aware of the serious risks posed by asbestos exposure. For instance, Maurice Gilbert, who worked around asbestos mines for 19 years, joked to The Globe and Mail that he had never sneezed in his life. Unfortunately, the symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses typically do not manifest themselves until decades after initial exposure to the material, so the true impact may not be immediately apparent.

Action Mesothelioma Day – Friday 6th July 2012

Action Mesothelioma logoWe support the following press release from the Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group (MAVSG)

An Asbestos Tsunami – The Need for a Global Ban

At the end of June the Quebec Government announced that a loan agreement of $58 million to re-open the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine would go ahead and that the mining of chrysotile (white) asbestos would start once again. This is despite the Quebec Government’s own health authority and the Canadian Medical Association calling for an end to the production and use of asbestos. Five million tonnes of asbestos will now be exported from the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine to developing countries, such as India, over the next 20 years.

The Quebec mines were once the world’s biggest producer of asbestos but had been closed for some months due to financial and operational difficulties. Canada no longer uses the asbestos that they mine but export the raw mineral ore to the developing world instead.

There has been international condemnation of this loan agreement, especially from health campaigners in India. John Flanagan of the Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group said –

“This decision came just a week before Action Mesothelioma Day when mesothelioma victims are remembered and their lives commemorated. This is truly shocking news. Shame on Quebec for putting profits before the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our world! And shame on Canada for this blatant hypocrisy. Canadian citizens are subject to a de-facto ban on the use of asbestos yet people in developing countries are not given the same protection. This year more than ever we need the support of the community to ensure all necessary steps are taken to eradicate asbestos from the global environment”.

Laurie Kazan-Allen – Editor of the British Asbestos Newsletter & Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat said –

Action Mesothelioma Day 2012 is a time to reflect on developments regarding the rights of UK asbestos victims. Will these rights still be upheld in the face of a major assault by defendants and insurers? Around the world the use of asbestos continues to endanger the health of millions of innocent people.  UK asbestos victims speak with one voice when they call for an international ban on the use of asbestos.”

On June 27, 2012, Barrister Krishnendu Mukherjee in his keynote presentation to the annual asbestos seminar of the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group revealed that British companies, including banks and financial institutions, are investing in the Indian asbestos industry; his naming of British financial stakeholders stimulated a great degree of concern and discussion amongst seminar delegates who were appalled that this deadly trade was seen as a legitimate investment for British institutions. Asbestos campaigners will be taking this issue to the Government and demanding that this financial support for an industry which is killing workers and members of the public in India is terminated immediately.

Asbestos victims and their families will be attending Action Mesothelioma Day at Liverpool Town Hall at 11.00am – 3.00pm. The focus this year this will be on “the need for a worldwide ban on the mining, manufacture, and use of all forms of asbestos”.  At the event in Liverpool, there will several guest speakers giving presentations on the need for an international ban on the use of asbestos, the health effects of mesothelioma and the role of respiratory nurses. At 12pm (noon) there will be a release of sponsored Doves in tribute to all those who have suffered from mesothelioma. Asbestos victims, Civic Dignitaries, MP’s and local children will all take part in this event.


There is also an event being held on Thursday 5th July at John Moore’s University. Several short films including the BBC Horizon Programme “The Killer Dust” are being shown from 6.30pm at 68 Hope Street, Liverpool. Laurie Kazan Allen will also be giving a brief talk afterwards.

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