Asbestos Mine to Possibly Reopen in Quebec
December 22nd, 2010
There is widespread outrage following the announcement from the Quebec government that it will possibly reopen the Jeffrey Mine, the largest asbestos mine in the world. $58 million would go towards reopening the mine, and over the next 25 years, the Quebec government would export 6 million tons of chrysotile asbestos to India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
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Reopening Plans Trigger Furious Protests
Owing to its many health hazards, Asbestos has been banned in many countries. However, it is often used in underdeveloped nations, many of which lack the resources to provide protective equipment for workers.
Protestors argue that if the government proceeds to open the mine, there would be catastrophic consequences, not only for those living near it, but for the residents of India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Quebec government’s proposal to reopen the Jeffery Mine triggered protests not only in Canada, but in parts of Europe. Canadian and English campaigners alike have denounced the export of Canadian chrysotile asbestos as an “abomination,” and a blatant breach of human rights.
Earlier in December, a delegation of Asian asbestos victims visited Quebec, and urged a ban on asbestos exports to India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Several medical professionals have spoken out against the reopening of the Jeffrey mine, including Dr. Jeff Turnbull, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA):
“We know from clear scientific evidence that exposure to asbestos through mining, processing and use is harmful to heath. We have a social responsibility to protect not only the health of Canadians, but that of citizens elsewhere who are being harmed by a Canadian export. Canada should not be abdicating this responsibility.”
Such sentiments were echoed by Kathleen Ruff, author of “Exporting Harm: How Canada Exports to the Developing World.”
“The export of millions of tons of asbestos would create a new generation of victims amongst the most vulnerable people on the planet,” she said.
Quebec Government Defends Its Actions
Quebec officials maintain that it is possible for Canada, one of the largest chrysotile asbestos exporters in the world, to handle the mineral safely. But the statistics released by groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) contradicts that claim. WHO estimates that more than “107,000 people” die each year from asbestos illness, especially asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma. Unlike Canada, the United States, and other first world nations, poor countries have little access to quality medical treatment.
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