World News Roundup: Asbestos Cases Outside the U.S.

In Canada , A gymnasium in Colchester County , Nova Scotia , has been closed because repair workers believe they found asbestos above the gym ceiling. The repair work was stopped immediately following the discovery, while tests are ordered to determine if the substance is actually asbestos.
The Chignecto Central School Board ordered gym classes to be held outside until the issue is resolved. In Japan , 178 construction workers suffering from illnesses related to asbestos exposure filed a class-action lawsuit against the Japanese government and construction material manufacturers, demanding a total of about 6.6 billion yen (US $64 million). This is the first class-action suit in Japan over health damages from asbestos exposure at construction sites. The plaintiffs, from the Tokyo , Saitama, and Chiba prefectures, say they inhaled asbestos after working construction jobs. Another 40 construction workers are expected to file a similar suit in Kanagawa Prefecture in June of 2008. In New Zealand , a preliminary report of asbestos traces in the passenger area of the Epuni Railway Station, in the Hutt Valley just north of Wellington , led Tranz Metro to close the station temporarily.

The station will be closed while more thorough tests are conducted. Passengers will use nearby stations during the closure. In the United Kingdom, an asbestos campaigner has collected photographic evidence to establish definitively that workers were exposed to asbestos in a Broxburn Golden Wonder factory. Alex Horne, who has spent more than twenty years attempting to raise public awareness of the hazardous materials in the Broxburn potato chip plant, obtained the photographs with the help of a local MP (member of Parliament).

The photographs, showing various areas of the plant and demonstrating the presence of asbestos there, were taken in the 1980s as part of a case against a company that improperly cleared asbestos from the factory’s boiler room. Horne and other Golden Wonder employees were present when that work was done, but say they were not told about asbestos being present. Horne says that the photographs demonstrate a lack of regard for worker safety, saying “they show that the Golden Wonder employees’ working conditions were atrocious and people were knocking asbestos off with hammers. Asbestos was all over the factory as can be seen in the photographs.”