Quebec to Fund Reopening of Asbestos Mine

Amid strong opposition from public health experts, human rights advocates, and one of Quebec’s largest unions, Quebec government officials have decided to move forward with funding the expansion of Canada’s last remaining asbestos mine, AOL News reports. The news source explains that a previous vote by representatives of the 300,000-member Quebec Confederation of National Trade Unions strongly opposed the expansion of the Jeffrey Mine. The Jeffrey Mine is located approximately an hour’s drive from the Vermont-Canada border, and is said to be the world’s largest chrysotile asbestos pit. AOL News reports that the chrysotile asbestos from the Jeffrey Mine will be almost exclusively shipped to Third World nations, where asbestos cement plants are currently being constructed. Montreal-based entrepreneur, Baljit Chadha, along with a syndicate of Indian investors, has been lobbying hard for a $57 million dollar loan, explains AOL News. Chadha, according to AOL, has been shipping Canadian asbestos to India and other countries for 15 years. With the help of this loan, “he promises to supply much of the world's asbestos market for at least 25 years,” the news source reports. Despite the Chrysotile Institute of Montreal’s claims that the chrysotile form of asbestos are not harmful, AOL reports protests of the substance’s mining and export continue. Furthermore, AOL reports that “demonstrations against exporting the Canadian asbestos still continue in the streets of Indian villages, where children protest against the building of local plants that will produce asbestos cement pipe and roofing and siding building material.” The AOL News article goes on to quote Dr. Aubrey Miller, a senior medical advisor for the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, as stating that “there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and even at very low concentrations in products it can result in big exposures [and disease].” AOL News also reports claims from the World Health Organization (WHO), explaining they have “documented evidence that no type or quantity of asbestos can be safely used.” WHO also claims “some experts believe the lethal fibers will take 10 million lives by 2030,” the news source explains. AOL News also reports that Kathleen Ruff, a leading Canadian human rights advocate, stated that “Canada is becoming known as the worldwide asbestos pusher and as an enemy of global public health.” It remains uncertain what the reopening of the Jeffrey Mine and the subsequent exportation of asbestos will mean for worldwide health, as well as Canada’s reputation in the global marketplace. Reference: Schneider, Andrew. (April 15, 2011). “Despite Pleas, Quebec to Fund Canada’s Last Asbestos Mine.” Retrieved on May 9, 2011 from AOL News. Previous: FAST Act legislation could assist those with rare diseases Next: Mesothelioma Symposium to Host Speaker Dr. Robert Cameron