The website of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group gives the news that last year, Canada’s Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis, who had been a staunch supporter of the revival of the Thetford Asbestos Mine in his constituency, announced that Canada will provide $50m to provide jobs in other industries, ending reliance on asbestos production.
This week, MEP Phillip Bennion has sent news of a resolution passed by the European Parliament, calling for an EU strategy to deal with asbestos problems, which, despite an EU-wide ban, s still found as a roofing or insulation material in many farm and industrial buildings, water pipe lagging, older trains and ships.
He notes that the amended report’s proposals include a public registry of buildings containing asbestos in all EU member states and moves to ensure that workers who remove it are fully qualified and trained, adding:
“After extensive negotiations and amendments, we now have a practical blueprint for action without imposing huge costs on farmers or businesses with buildings in use which contain asbestos. The material is very dangerous if disturbed but can be safely managed in situ with the right training and best practice, which the report now specifies.
“The proposals concentrate on public sector buildings like schools and hospitals, sound risk management and the need to phase in asbestos removal during the refurbishment cycle of buildings and roofing materials.
“MEPs are also calling for better support from the European Commission to national authorities, some of which have struggled with the tough safety requirements of asbestos management and removal. The EU can help ensure best practice in safety training for workers either maintaining structures which contain asbestos or removing it, to make sure the risk is as minimal as possible.”
It is disappointing to note that the report on this carcinogen is not binding EU law, but Phillip Bennion believes that it sends a strong signal to the Commission and national governments that EU law should press for tough but practical safety requirements.