4 comments to “While Protecting Its Own Citizens from Asbestos, Canada Aims to Keep Selling to Other Countries”

  1. Leah Nielsen

    I am wondering if Mr. Versailles, PR guy for the asbestos industry, would be willing to live in a house made of asbestos cement built to third standards. Yes, it is encapsulated IN THE BEGINNING. Do you want to fix something? A nail goes in – the asbestos is released. Is there an earthquake? The asbestos is released. Is there a tsunami? The asbestos is released. I realize that Quebec doesn’t experience any of these weather-related issues, so it obviously isn’t something they want to dwell on. The sad fact is that in most of the third world and developing nations where Canada wants to ship asbestos these catastrophes are common. Here is a link about an Australian who survived Mt. Everest, yet succumbed to meso at the young age of 56 BECAUSE HE HELPED HIS FATHER BUILD HOMES FROM CEMENT BOARD WITH ENCAPSULATED ASBESTOS. http://www.smh.com.au/national/adventurer-who-survived-everest-dies-from-asbestos-exposure-20120321-1vkdh.html
    If these asbestos exporters really were humanitarians they would be helping these people build homes that were not filled with carcinogens.

  2. Laura Guill

    There’s an old saying; “A mistake occurs once, the second time is a choice”. The Asbestos Industry and Canadian Government may have made a mistake initially but when people started getting sick and dying, the Asbestos Industry and Government both made the choice to continue to the industry in Canada. Next week my family will mourn the 2nd anniversary of the day the Asbestos Industry and Canadian Government’s choice cost us to suffer the loss of my father. The sad reality is my father’s suffering and ultimately death weren’t part of a mistake, it was the result of the Asbestos Industry and Canadian Government’s choice to continue packaging asbestos in Canada long after they knew that it was going to cost thousands of lives and made a clear choice to conceal that information in order to profit. With this in mind, how are we ever suppose to trust anyone from the Asbestos Industry and the Canadian Government’s word or so called studys? We already know those who profit from Asbestos have no problem with chosing to plague thousands with death sentences. Today they claim the past was just a mistake, how many times can the same mistake be made and accepted? As for accurate statistics, please keep in mind that thousands of people like my father have been tested and told they simply must have a history of asthma, they aren’t infected by occupational disease; thus causing many to suffer and die in silence and not be accounted for. Unless their families insist on an autopsy and pay for the autopsy their deaths go unaccounted for within the asbestos related deaths statistics. So the one thing I agree with Mr. Versailles about is the statistics aren’t accurate; what he fails to acknowledge is the statistics are far lower than the actual number of deaths. My father died a few days after his 59th birthday, but he suffered for many years as absestos sucked the life out him; slowly causing his vital organs to shut down one at a time and leaving him to rely on a machine to breathe. I can no longer be proud to say I am Canadian because the Asbestos Industry and Government are hand in hand in continuing to deliver death sentences and causing one of the greatest shames to mark our nation. Asbestos must be banned, let us learn from history and not let it continue to repeat itself over and over again.

  3. Hindry Marc

    This article is right on almost everything except one point. The truth is that the Quebec government is so committed to sustain the dying canadian asbestos mining industry that it FAILS to protect its population. Québec “enjoys” one of the highest rate of mesothelioma (the cancer of the pleura specific to asbestos) on the planet. A recent study by Québec health institute showed 100% failure of protection protocols in factories where asbestos is still used in Québec.

    M. Versailles is the spokeperson of Balcorp, a Company that sells Canadian asbestos mainly to India, a country where the standards of safety are much, much lower even than in Québec.

    Claiming that “the world has been asking WHO” for explanations is just ridiculous, the “world”, at least the part of it that is concerned with human life and not with companies profit knows very well that the World Health Organisation (WH0), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Canadian Cancer society, the Canadian Medical Association and ALL respectable health institution throughout the world condemn the use of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos which represents more than 95% of asbestos. The figure of 107 000 deaths per year due to asbestos is by the way an underestimation, but still a very serious epidemiologic figure.

    Even the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has condemned Canada in 2000 (and again in appeal in 2001), when the Canadian Government challenged the ban of asbestos in France, and recognized the “safe use” was impossible to implement!

    Asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos, is not only banned throughout Europe, it is banned in more than fifty countries including Argentina, Chili and Uruguay in South America, Japan and Korea in Asia, Algeria and South Africa (once a big producer) in Africa.

    The other plain truth is that no one needs asbestos apart the handful of ruthless businessmen making money selling it. Production of asbestos in Canada has stopped, it is clearly time for Canada to put an end to this deadly and immoral trade, which, by the way, has been costing a lot of money to Canadian taxpayers for more than twenty years.

  4. Guy Versailles

    DISCLAIMER: I represent the chrysotile industry.

    First a word about the past. Everyone acknowledges the terrible legacy of the past, where amphibole asbestos was mixed with chrysotile asbestos ( a mistake since amphiboles have been proven to be much more dangerous than chrysotile) and then used improperly in loose insulation (a second mistake since this could easily be released in the air). Today, amphiboles are banned and in all modern products the chrysotile is encapsulated into another substance such as cement, resins, or asphalt and cannot be breathed in. it is the OLD products that are being taken out; many MODERN products are being installed in Canada today, mostly fiber-cement pipes with some 6 to 8 % chrysotile mixed into the cement; these are perfectly safe. We are not expecting the victims and their families to approve of any type of asbestos, their grief is understandable and must be respected. The media, however, have a responsibility to provide balanced information.

    It is not the government that has curtailed asbestos usage in Canada, it is the market, responding to diminishing demand (small wonder, given the intensive campaign waged against chrysotile for so many years).

    Chrysotile is used in the majority of countries in the world that represent at least 65 % of the world’s population. These countries have access to the same studies we have and they are not hell-bent on poisoning their population; they use it because they need it and because they know they can do so safely. Canada is far from being the only country in the world opposed to the ban; India, Russia, China, Brazil, Mexico, most of Latin America and Asia also are. But they are much less vocal about it that the proponents of the ban are, as usually happens.

    As for the WHO’s 100,000 deaths per year caused by asbestos, the world has been asking for years for the hard data behind this figure, and the world is still waiting. The truth is that no one knows and as such this figure means nothing; we need to know what type of asbestos these people would have been exposed to, for how long and in what concentrations. This hard knowledge would allow to plan for remedial action where it is most needed. But the figure as it is used serves no other purpose than to scare people.

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