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PERSPECTIVE: Anti-chrysotile crusaders oppose Jeffrey mine redevelopment

Calling themselves the Solidarity Delegation, seven individuals from Japan, Indonesia, Korea and India came to Quebec this week in an attempt to stop the provincial government from financing underground redevelopment at the Jeffrey mine in...



Calling themselves the Solidarity Delegation, seven individuals from Japan, Indonesia, Korea and India came to Quebec this week in an attempt to stop the provincial government from financing underground redevelopment at the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, QC. The delegates are demanding that chrysotile mining in Quebec and Canada cease, saying the product is a hazard to health.

Although strict standards govern the mining and use of asbestos in Canada, the same is not true in many developing countries.

“In Quebec, it is illegal for people to be exposed to damaged pieces of asbestos. In Asia, this is common,” said one delegate. “Broken pieces of asbestos cement are re-used for homes and children play amongst asbestos cement rubble. Many people have never even heard of asbestos, but that doesn’t stop it from killing them.”

The debate concerning the safe use of asbestos is far from over. It has been re-ignited as a group of international investors wants to purchase the Jeffrey mine. Plans call for mining to cease in the pit and move underground. Production will expand from 15,000 to 180,000 t/y in 2012 and eventually to 225,000 tonnes. Accomplishing that will take an $80-million investment and create 500 jobs. The plans are supported by the Asbestos community and those who would like to have those jobs.

The investors have pledged to pay for audits of their customers carried out either by government officials or third-party experts. They have also pledged to increase safe usage at the level of end users and to eliminate ignorance through education.

The Mouvement Pro Chrysotile, a Quebec group backing the mine expansion, said in a press release, “Rather than involving themselves in an internal debate over the development of Quebec’s natural resources, why didn’t members of the Asian delegation ask political leaders in their own countries to adopt and enforce strict safe-use measures, not only for chrysotile, but for all the alternative fibres and products, whose safety has not been demonstrated?”

That in a nutshell is the problem. The investors wanting to own the Jeffrey mine will have to ensure that the product is mined safely, and they must sell it only to responsible customers. But can they really assure the public that chrysotile will be used and handled safely at every project on which it is used?

If their educational efforts are successful, the debate may finally shift toward responsible asbestos use instead of a total ban on a product needed for sewers and housing in many parts of the world.


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2 Comments » for PERSPECTIVE: Anti-chrysotile crusaders oppose Jeffrey mine redevelopment
  1. Gopal Krishna says:

    Silence of Canadian House of Commons in the matter of human rights violations due to exposure from Canadian asbestos is deafening. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) which is working to make India asbestos free feels that Canada lost its place as a non-Permanent Member in the UN Security Council because it is fast loosing its reputation as a civilized nation. BANI is responding to public health crisis in India due to trade in asbestos. There is an epidemic of incurable asbestos related diseases and India does not have the most environmental and occupational health infrastructure to even diagnose the asbestos disease. There is not a single building in India which is asbestos free. In such a context, BANI demands that ban on asbestos must be made a pre-condition for the proposed free trade agreement between India and Canada.

    Even a helicopter carrying the President of India hit an asbestos shed at the Bhubaneshwar airport, Orissa (a province in India) on December 9, 2009. The fact is that such asbestos sheds pose a health, environmental and occupational risk to everybody. In 2006 alone there were more than 1,000 mesothelioma deaths (asbestos related fatal disease) in Japan which along with some 52 countries have banned asbestos. Indians await a similar fate. Canadian and Quebec government must desist from providing fiscal support to an industry which is liable for the disease and death of millions of workers and consumers.

    Canadian parliament must show its legislative will and stop the group of international investors who want to purchase the Jeffrey mine which will lead to production of killer fibers of asbestos to expand from 15,000 to 180,000 tonne/year in 2012 and eventually to 225,000 tonnes.

  2. Travis Michael says:

    It seems that whether the asbestos mining operations want to admit it or not, they are exporting a poison. This toxic material has been linked to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. It is the duty of everyone involved in distribution to properly educated themselves on the situation they are putting other countries in, including whether or not the countries have safety policies in place to handle such a hazardous material. TM, http://www.banasbestosnow.com

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