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article imageBoth sides of Quebec's asbestos battle speak out

By KJ Mullins     Dec 7, 2010 in World
Both sides of asbestos mining spoke out today issuing press releases. One side claims that health and safety is at stake while the other claims its jobs are at stake.
In Asbestos, Quebec the Jeffrey Mine is the livelihood of many of the residents. They claim that those against asbestos mining are misled by medical militants and the Rideau Institute spouting facts that differ from theirs. Spokesperson for the Mouvement Pro Chrysotile, Mr Serge Boislard stated that Canada and Quebec have been leaders in the responsible use of chrysotile for the past 25 years sharing their knowledge with numerous other consuming countries.
"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?" asked Mr. Boislard. "It's easy to preach to others and to act the victim rather than dealing with what's happening in their own countries. However, it would be more responsible to look clearly at the scientific evidence available to the international community, to use what is certainly a dangerous product in a controlled manner, when it has been proven that it is possible to use it safely, and most of all, to demand the necessary studies to demonstrate the safety of alternative substances, fibres and products and require that they be controlled in the workplace."
The Asian delegation that Boislard spoke of was in Montreal today asking for a total ban of the exportation of asbestos. The seven member delegation consisted of activists, a trade unionist and victims of asbestos from Japan, Indonesia, Korea and India.
While the spokesperson from Jeffrey Mines claims that other nations are educated about the safe use of asbestos a member of the delegation gave a different viewpoint.
"Please listen to us," said Anup Srivastava, of the Building and Woodworkers International, which represents 13 million workers around the world. "I am here to tell you face to face that the reassurances given to you by the asbestos industry are completely false. They claim that the same strict controls exist in the developing world as in Quebec. This is absurd. All over Asia, you will see workers cutting asbestos-cement roofing with abrasive saws and no protection from the deadly fibres being released. This is totally illegal in Qu├ębec. It is common in Asia."
Kazumi Yoshizaki lost her father to pleural mesothelioma in 2005, the lung cancer is caused from exposure to asbestos. She cited the fact that the World Health Organization has said the only way to prevent that and other asbestos related diseases is to stop the use of any kind of asbestos.
"People have the right to live in safe conditions," said Rachel Lee. Lee, who is 45 years old, was not exposed to asbestos at work, but lived for two years near a chrysotile asbestos-cement factory in Korea from 1991 to1992. She has mesothelioma. "Asbestos has caused me, my husband and my two children great suffering. Asbestos has destroyed my life," says Lee. "I want there to be no more asbestos victims."
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