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article imageBusiness consortium discusses exportation of asbestos in Canada Special

By KJ Mullins     Dec 8, 2010 in Business
They die from their work. More workers in Quebec are killed from asbestos exposure than any other cause. In 2009 61 of 104 Quebec workers who died from work-related causes had an asbestos illness. At Jeffrey Mine those figures are from prior standards.
That is from earlier risks from the industry says the consortium not from today's.
Scientists and researchers know the truth, there is no safe level when it comes to inhaling asbestos. The consortium says that not all scientists feel this way.
In Canada the debate of mining asbestos rages on. At stake is Quebec's Jeffrey Mine. Guy Versailles who represents the consortium that plans to buy and reopen the Jeffrey chrysotile plant in Asbestos, Quebec discussed his side of the issue this morning during a phone interview.
When it comes to asbestos there are two very divided sides to the issue those for and those against.
Guy Versailles started off the interview stating that asbestos is not banned in Canada. In his role for the consortium Versailles is very much for the exportation of asbestos, or rather the Chrysotile fibres that the Jeffrey Mine works with.
"Not all of the scientists who say that the fibres are not dangerous are crack-pots."
Science has played a part on both sides of the fence in this debate, some saying there is little danger and others, including many in the public health sector saying that asbestos itself is a ticking time bomb.
When asked about the large number of Canadians suffering from asbestos-related illnesses Versailles responded asking about their age and the time that they were exposed.
"It is a fact until 25 to 30 years ago the standards are not what they are today."
There is no debate that asbestos is killing many and that prior to regulations the safe use of the product were not in play. Those regulations are yet to be in many of the nations that Jeffrey Mines plan to ship to. I asked Versailles about the ethics of sending a product to a country where standards are not as rigid as Canada's.
"In India there are two sides of a street. One side is modern industries and the other are Mom and Pop stores. Jeffrey Mines only exports to industries that are well established. We do not sell to the Mom and Pop store." Versailles then went on to counter that the consortium can not be held accountable for those industries then selling to Mom and Pops.
"If we are accountable for every move of those businesses they we may as well stop selling all together."
He went on to say that the companies that will be exporting the product will be audited by an independent auditor picked by Quebec.
"We have programs planned in the future to educate those we are dealing with."
When asked how far into the future Versailles said within a 6 month to one year period.
Versailles stated that Canada only exports 10 percent of the world's asbestos. If Canada is no longer exporting the product he countered then standards may decrease.
"We can set a standard so that the old sector is brought around to the new standard. We create the model for others to follow. Canada is a leader in the industry standard wise with Quebec having the longest standing stardards of use."
Versailles is passionate about his industry not seeing it a benefit for Canada not to export because others will pick up the slack. Citing India again Versailles said, "In India there are two societies. What do we do, stop sending chemicals because of the less educated society? It is not productive to pull out. The substance is very useful and can be used safely."
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