Quaker Chemical settled with an insurance company and agreed to pay part of the costs “in connection with asbestos bodily injury claims” according to the Associated Press. Part of the long shake-out of the tragic asbestos legacy.
More on that French cruise liner, the Blue Lady. A high court in India finally gave permission for the ship to be dismantled. This ship has been roaming the seas looking for a resting place. The hazards posed by asbestos and other toxic materials have caused much concern. Bangladeshi authorities turned the ship away, and it finally pulled into the Alang yard in India a year ago. Environmentalists have been fighting efforts to break the ship down, but it looks like they have lost the legal battle.
Almost 6 years after the terrorist attacks, lower Manhattan has recovered somewhat; Building 7 of the WTC was rebuilt, plans are underway for more buildings, and over 15,000 people have moved into the area in recent years. However, the legacy of asbestos remains. The Deutsche Bank was damaged back in Sept 2001 and has never been demolished, partly because of on-going concern about asbestos removal and other toxic materials. The building’s owner says it can’t be sealed until fire safety rules are agreed on and the building is stabilized, but the EPA has blocked the plan. Meanwhile two firefighters died in a conflagration at Deutsche Bank in August.
The Pump Handle reports that Senator Murray’s hearings included testimony from a worker in the U.S. Capitol tunnels. We reported last year on the asbestos found underneath the Capitol building and the risks it poses to people working down there.
The Senate Health Committee’s employment and workplace safety subcommittee held a hearing yesterday and the widow of Bruce Vento testified. Vento was a congressman who died several years ago from mesothelioma. Senator Patty Murray is continuing her crusade to ban asbestos, and reintroduced her bill to ban the material. Murray has tried to get this bill passed before, but it always died. This time, she has committee chair Barbara Boxer as a co-sponsor, and reportedly has the support of majority leader Harry Reid, so prospects look better.
General Electric is charging $115 million after-tax charge on its accounting books to cover asbestos cases. The company has already paid $500 million to settle asbestos cases, and has 509,000 claims pending. Like many large industrial companies, GE used asbestos in its products, even though it was not a primary asbestos maker. GE’s power turbines were made with asbestos.
The British Press Association is reporting about 47-year-old woman with mesothelioma who was exposed to asbestos dust as a child. Her father died last year from cancer, and the woman Debra Brewer remembers asbestos on his work clothing when she was young. There are unfortunately many such cases of children being exposed through their father’s clothes. The long latency period of mesothelioma means the disease may not show up for decades, but when it does, it is devastating.
James Hardie, maker of building products and a long-time seller of asbestos goods, had agreed with the New South Wales government to establish a compensation fund for people with asbestos diseases. The questions was whether the fund would be considered a charity for tax purposes. If it was not, the tax man would take a share and result in less money available to victims, or else James Hardie would have to pay out more, which they claimed they couldn’t.
The tax authorities have decided the compensation fund does could as a charity and will therefore be tax-exempt.
The Associated Press reports that the United Nation’s Environment Programme did not add chrysotile asbestos to the list of hazardous chemicals with special shipping requirements. The Rotterdam Convention, which includes 110 countries, could not agree on this type of asbestos, mainly because of opposition from the countries that export asbestos. Canada, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Iran all opposed the plan.
There are 39 chemicals, including other types of asbestos, on “Prior Informed Consent” list which means certain stipulations are placed on international trade.
“The World Health Organisation made a statement to the meeting warning that chrysotile can cause cancer and that at least 90,000 people die every year of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and the respiratory disease mesothelioma.”
There’s a story out of Wisconsin about former employees of CSX Railroad looking into the use of asbestos in their workplace. “They claim asbestos was present in various types of packing materials, gaskets, floor tile, ceiling paint, brake shoes, steam hoses, firebrick, and welding gloves.” More on asbestos exposure.