International asbestos lobby campaigns to undermine UN Convention and deny asbestos harm

Thu, Mar 21, 2019


Kathleen Ruff,

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA) has for decades promoted the sale of asbestos. Registered in Quebec as a “non profit organisation” and operating in the past out of an office in Thetford Mines, Quebec, the ICA now appears to be run by a lobbying company in Brussels, Alonso & Asociados. The ICA is funded by asbestos mines in Russia and Kazakhstan and by asbestos sellers in India and Mexico. The Shabanie abestos mine in Zimbabwe, closed for many years but which hopes to re-open, is also represented on the ICA board of directors. In 2013, the ICA had 23 directors from 16 countries. Today it has shrunk to just 6 directors.

The battle against the lies and the lobbying of asbestos interests

The ICA continues, however, to carry out its deadly work, denying asbestos harm and lobbying on behalf of asbestos interests.

The ICA has released  a document, Rotterdam Convention COP-9 MEETING – 2019, which it will use at the UN Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties in Geneva, April 29 – May 9, 2019 to prevent chrysotile asbestos being put on the Convention’s list of hazardous substances, which the convention’s scientific committee and the overwhelming majority of countries have repeatedly called for.

The ICA is also promoting projects in Quebec that allow workers to be exposed to to dangerously high levels of asbestos.

The Quebec Asbestos Victims Association (AVAQ), the Quebec government’s health directors and Quebec health organisations, such as the Quebec Medical Association, the Quebec Cancer Society and the Quebec Public Health Association, have all implored the Canadian government and the Quebec government not to support projects, such as the ones to commercialize the asbestos wastes, that permit workers to be exposed to dangerously high levels of asbestos – levels that are illegal under federal jurisdiction, but that the Canadian government is shamefully supporting and funding.

The asbestos lobby is exerting intimidation against the government’s health directors, who continue to show integrity and courage to defend people from asbestos harm, as they did previously when they opposed the new, underground asbestos mine (see article How We Beat Asbestos). In particular, the health director for the Asbestos region, where the asbestos wastes project is located, has been threatened with dismissal.

It is important to support AVAQ and the Quebec health directors and health associations in their struggle calling for proper safety protections against asbestos.

Below are articles by the ICA and the PROChrysotile Movement, whose mission is: “To contribute to the valorization, defense and promotion of the safe use of CHRYSOTILE AND ITS MINE TAILINGS (SERPENTINE). Created in the Fall of 2000 by the Thetford Mines and Asbestos, Quebec, communities, the PROChrysotile movement aims to counter the “Ban Asbestos” negative propaganda and rehabilitate chrysotile. The valorization of serpentine mine tailings is one of the Movement’s most important endeavor.”

International Chrysotile Association, March 7, 2019

“For a wide range of different reasons, numerous stakeholders objected to the Trudeau government’s plan to ban asbestos, including chrysotile, in Canada. Science, especially the most recent data, differentiates between the different type of fibers and their impact on the health of workers and the population at large. Chrysotile and amphiboles are very different minerals, with very different risk levels.

The Government of Canada, who unfortunately listens a lot to the anti-asbestos lobbies, implicitly endorsed an unhealthy crusade which has been going on for a long time. By opting for abusive regulations that would have led to the total banishment of asbestos, including chrysotile and all products containing it, the Trudeau government would have compromised the economic revitalization of those regions where serpentine mine tailings can be found. This rich mining inheritance has the potential to revive a sustainable development, based on the respect of an equilibrium between economic, environmental and social development.

Those regions’ intense mobilization and multiple interventions from numerous organizations won the day over the aggressive protagonists of a total banishment. In the end, the valorization and exploitation of serpentine tailings were excluded from the regulations ─ much to the anti-asbestos lobbies’ despair.

Brighter days shine on the horizon and hope has returned to the communities whose only aspiration is to be able to live quietly in an environment that can offer them qualified jobs, a sustainable economic development and a well-established quality of life.

For more info, you can read the abstract from an article published by the daily La Tribune here or the original article, in French, here.”

International Chrysotile Association, October 23, 2018

Article in French in newspaper in asbestos mining region, August 26, 2018.  “… As for the warning from the 17 directors of public health, it is not a rare movement, it is instead one more militant action that is part of the well-orchestrated crusade of anti-asbestos activists who multiply their means of pressure worldwide. … ” (translation)

Article in French, May 24, 2018, by the PROChrysotile Movement


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