Mesothelioma News: Expansion of Asbestos Mining in Canada Sparks Global Outrage

07/08/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma attorneys: Cooney & Conway

(Mesothelioma News) – Plans by the Quebec provincial government to finance expansion of the Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos, named for its most valuable asset, have spurred outcries across the globe. Protesters are citing concerns long known to medical researchers and mesothelioma lawyers: Asbestos exposure can cause grave health problems, including forms of cancer that are almost always fatal.

As conceived, the new underground mine would generate some 200,000 tons of asbestos a year starting in 2010. Most of that asbestos—a heat- and fire-resistant material that had been widely used in the Canadian and U.S. construction industries before it was linked to significant health risks—would be exported to developing countries.

Protests in South Korea, Hong Kong, Belgium, and several U.S. cities underscore the severity of asbestos-related diseases.

Exposure to asbestos can trigger lung cancer as well as mesothelioma, a cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs. Though it can take years—even decades—to develop, mesothelioma is incurable in almost all cases.

While the risks of inhaling asbestos fibers have long been known, manufacturers, employers, and property owners have often been negligent in using or removing asbestos, failing to provide sufficient protective gear or warning, or taking appropriate preventive steps. That’s resulted in unnecessary deaths—and countless asbestos lawsuits.

Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers have had great success in obtaining large verdicts and settlements, often in the multimillion-dollar range, for victims of asbestos-related diseases. But medical researchers have not made equal strides. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is as grim today as it was decades ago—a fact not lost on the demonstrators.

In Hong Kong, protestors assembled outside the Canadian consulate to call for a ban on asbestos exports from Canada to Asia. Asbestos mining—let alone its expansion—is a hot-button topic in the Asian city, due to its increasingly troubling experience with mesothelioma.

“Hong Kong itself is in the midst of an asbestos disease epidemic,” according to the Asia Monitor Resource Center—a labor organization in the former British dependency. “Many workers continue to die every year due to lung cancers and mesothelioma—a deadly lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Due to its long latency period, sometimes over 30 years, the asbestos-related diseases will continue to kill exposed populations for many years more.”

In Seoul, demonstrators gathered outside both the Quebec trade office and the Canadian embassy. They, too, called on Quebec not just to stop the asbestos mine’s expansion—which is to be funded in large part by a $58 million loan guarantee from the Quebec government—but to close the Canada’s mines permanently.

Similar protests were held in Brussels; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, while a California-based asbestos victims group urged Ottawa, the Canadian capital, to oppose the loan guarantees.

“After a century of knowledge concerning the health effects of asbestos and its devastating trail of disease and death around the world,” [this] initiative by Canada is a giant misstep backwards,” said Richard Leman, former assistant surgeon general of the United States and cochair of the science advisory board for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

Meanwhile, a member of the European Parliament, Stephen Hughes, has urged the European Commission to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization claiming that Quebec’s loan guarantee would contravene WTO rules.

In Canada, the expansion of the Jeffrey asbestos mine is seen from another perspective. Local organizations in the town of Asbestos—viewing increased operations of the mine as a boon to the faltering local economy and employment—have raised $2 million to help finance the project.

But protestors, mesothelioma lawyers, and medical researchers worry that increased asbestos mining could be a boon to something else, too: needless disease, death, and tragedy.

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we’ve brought relief—and recovery—to those injured by the negligence or harmful actions of others. In the process, we’ve litigated some of the country’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, helping victims of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases get answers—and justice.

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