Asbestos World Watch for December 23rd, 2008

In ENTEBBE, UGANDA, the municipality has agreed to have all asbestos removed from school roofs. Asbestos was a common, cheap material used mostly during the colonial era of the nation, but today, the country realizes the inherent dangers posed with asbestos construction materials. Due to budgetary restrictions, the schools in Kiwafu have to be re-roofed one at a time. The first school to have a new, asbestos-free roof was Kiwafu Primary School. A campaign begun during the financial year beginning in late 2008 hopes to see all of the schools in Kiwafu with new roofs within a year. Parents of children at the schools are being encouraged to help the cause by paying for their children’s books and uniforms. This will allow the schools to use government money to cover the expenses of maintaining the buildings and paying the teachers. In UK, Able UK has won the rights in a UK Court of Appeals to dismantle a French aircraft carrier, the Clemenceau, riddled with asbestos in an English harbor.

The ship was turned away from India due to the toxicity of its construction materials, but now it will be taken to Graythorp near Hartlepool for dismantling. A challenge to the September 2008 High Court ruling that allowed the ship into Hartlepool was filed by the Friends of Hartlepool in the Court of Appeals. Lord Justices Rix, Jackson, and Dyson denied the appeal, stating that their reasons would be communicated at a later date. The appeal was filed on the grounds that allowing the toxic ship to be brought into Hartlepool posed such a public health and safety hazard that it was unlawful. There are an estimated 760 tons of asbestos and 330 tons of polychlorinated biphenyls within the materials used in the construction of the Clemenceau. In AUSTRALIA, the Big Penguin tourist attraction in Penguin, Tasmania, is undergoing asbestos testing to determine if the site poses a health hazard. A former worker who helped to craft the cement core of the giant penguin statue in 1975 said that he fears that there are potentially deadly asbestos fibers in the cement. Since it was erected, the statue has drawn hundreds of thousands of tourists and is an icon of the town. Even though the cement core is covered with fiberglass, no chances are being taken, and the asbestos testing will continue. In the event that the statue is proven to be dangerous, the city plans to erect a replacement, citing the fact that complete removal of the penguin would incite the wrath of the statue’s fans.