Asbestos World Watch for January 13th, 2009

In MALAYSIA, cement piping containing asbestos in Penang will be replaced to solve the problems of constant water disruptions. The project began in 2006 under the direction of Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP) Sdn Bhd, which has undertaken the task of changing the asbestos pipes for those made of ductile iron. A completion date of 12 years from the start of the replacement has been projected. Officials have assured residents that the only danger from the old asbestos pipes is from breakage, but the new iron piping will solve the water problems, last longer, and be more durable. In TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA, the Fire Services is being accused of neglecting to clean up asbestos in fire stations. The accusers are the Tasmanian fire fighters. Frustrated by the lack of information about asbestos contamination in the fire stations, the Firefighters’ Union is asking for increased number of registers in the stations. Only nine out of a total of 105 fire stations in Tasmania have registers of any asbestos found in the building, but most of the stations were constructed before asbestos was banned as a building material and are likely to have the toxic substance in them.

The Fire Services claimed that the Firefighters Union went to the media before discussing its concerns with them. According to officials, any asbestos in the fire stations should not pose an immediate threat since it is well sealed within the construction, but the Firefighters’ Union wants action to be taken to increase the awareness of the presence of asbestos in the stations. In UK, a Coroners and Justice Bill introduced legislation that could overturn an old, discomforting practice surrounding those who died from asbestos exposure . In the past, if an asbestos victim died and was not taken to the coroner at the time, then a police officer was required to talk to the family members. The bill seeks to increase the level of sensitivity and awareness and provide better medical training and advice for coroners about asbestos and mesothelioma deaths. Advocates for greater awareness about asbestos ailments, such as the British Lung Foundation, praise the measure. The chief executive of the British Lung Foundation said: “The current coroners system can cause unnecessary distress to people already going through a very difficult time. We are extremely happy that the Coroners Bill will now be brought forward to end these practices.”