Asbestos scare prompts Pilbara factory walkout

Hundreds of workers have walked off the job at a Pilbara fertiliser
factory in north-west Western Australia over an asbestos scare.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union says the blue
asbestos, which is contained in gaskets imported from India, has
contaminated the Burrup Fertilisers plant.

A union spokesman says the gaskets are "lying around all over the place"
and the workers will only go back once the areas contaminated with
asbestos have been identified and isolated.

A WorkSafe investigator has been called in and the gaskets are being
examined to determine whether they do in fact contain asbestos.

Source: Laurie Kazan-Allen

EU to implement new electronic waste rules

New rules on electric and electronic waste is expected to come into force in the European Union (EU) on Saturday(13th Aug, 2005) when televisions, computers and other equipment can be exchanged free of charge to shops on a one-to-one basis with new product purchases. The directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment, known as the WEEE directive, covers one of the fastest growing waste problems in the 25-nation bloc. Many of the common components of such devices contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium, and other substances that are dangerous to the health of humans and other animals. The WEEE directive aims to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic appliances being produced by ensuring that the highest possible number of used devices are recycled, reused or recovered. By the coming Saturday, EU member states should have set up collection systems for WEEE waste that allow consumers to hand in their old devices when they buy new ones. Collection points are also meant to allow people to dispose of old equipment free of charge. By December 2006, EU member states are meant to ensure that they collect four kilograms of WEEE waste per inhabitant per year.

Aug 12, 2005
Source :

FAQ on EU Policies on Electric and Electronic Waste

The UK announced Aug 10, 2005 that it had delayed the introduction of the new disposal rules until mid-2006. The EU has provided Questions & Answers information on the implementation of rules on the disposal of electric and electronic waste products in Member Countries.

Aug 11, 2005
Source :

Japan ratifies 1986 Asbestos Convention

Japan ratified on Thursday( Aug 11, 2005) the 1986 Asbestos Convention banning certain forms of asbestos, amid growing concern over exposure to the cancer-causing material. The treaty, signed in Geneva, Switzerland, will help promote efforts to protect workers here against the effects of the substance, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The 1986 convention bans certain types and uses of asbestos. It provides clear restrictions on any use, demolition and disposal of asbestos-containing products, such as insulation or roof tiles. Its ratification comes amid rising concern in Japan over asbestos exposure. More than 400 people died from asbestos-related cancers in the five years through March 2005, according to government figures released earlier this month. Highly carcinogenic types of the material -- so-called blue and brown asbestos -- were banned in Japan in 1995. But white asbestos, the most common form, was not outlawed until last October and a loophole still exists allowing the material to be used when there are no substitutes. Both houses of Japan's legislature unanimously approved the international convention in mid-July. Japan is only the 28th signatory of the asbestos convention, which has been criticized as a weak agreement ignored by many of the world's key asbestos-producing countries, including the U.S. and Russia.

Aug 11. 2005
Source :

Removal of 600 Tonnes of Obsolete Pesticides

About 600 tonnes of the existing obsolete pesticides in Mozambique, South Africa are to be collected and stored in safe warehouses by June 2006, in a project budgetted at 1.5 million US dollars. This money is to be granted by the Japanese government in the terms of an agreement signed recently between the two governments for the second phase of the Removal and Prevention of Accumulation of Obsolete Pesticides Project. A meeting to define a national strategy to implement this second phase took place in Maputo on Thursday (11th Aug, 2005). The first phase of the project was carried out in 2004, and was basicly to make an inventory of the pesticides and assess the conditions in which they are stored. This work identified 11 areas "very much contamined" with pesticides, and also found that there are a number of warehouses with stocks of these poroducts kept in poor storage conditions. Comenting on the issue, the project's national coordinator, with the Environment Ministry, Samson Cuamba, said that most of the obsolete pesticides in the country were found in areas of great agricultural potential.

Aug 11, 2005
Source :

Rep. Holt seeks pesticides limits
The congressman wants federal limits on the use of pesticides at, and near, schools.

Concern that children are being overexposed to pesticides in an environment presumed to be safe — their schools — has prompted U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) to introduce legislation to place federal restrictions on pesticide use at, and near, schools. Exposure to pesticides can leave children more susceptible to learning and behavioral disorders, asthma and certain childhood cancers, he warned at a news conference Aug. 4 at Lawrence Elementary School, which was attended by several New York officials. Rep. Holt's legislation, the School Environmental Protection Act (H.R. 11), would require local educational agencies and schools to implement integrated pest management systems to minimize the use of pesticides in schools, and provide for notification of the use of such chemicals. "This has to do with the poisoning of children," said Rep. Holt, a Hopewell Township resident. "There has been concern for years about the exposure of children to dangerous pesticides. We feel that children deserve a special measure of protection, not only because they are our future — not only because they play without concern for the environment — but because they have a higher sensitivity to chemical because they are growing. The peer-reviewed JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) study "Acute Illnesses Associated With Pesticide Exposure at Schools," analyzed 2,593 poisonings from 1998 to 2002. It found that incidence rates of acute pesticide-related illnesses among children increased significantly from 1998 to 2002. More than two-thirds of poisonings were associated with pesticide use at school. The study pointed to the absence of federal law regulating pesticide use. There is substantial medical evidence linking chronic asthma and certain childhood asthma to pesticide exposure, state Sen. Barbara Buono, (D-Metuchen) said at the press conference. "Children breathe in more air per pound, so they are more vulnerable," she said. "There is a link between pesticide exposure and acute illness not just in schoolchildren, but also in school employees. We don't know the magnitude of this problem, which is why it's so important to have legislation on the federal level."

Aug 11, 2005
Source :

CropLife Canada seeks Supreme Court challenge of Toronto pesticide by-law
Industry taking legal challenge to ensure farmers can continue to offer Canadians a safe and affordable food supply

CropLife Canada and the Urban Pest Management Council Aug 10, 2005 announced that they want to challenge the City of Toronto's by-law banning beneficial pest control products before the Supreme Court of Canada. CropLife Canada is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear its legal challenge on the City of Toronto by-law. "Pest control products are already regulated by Health Canada and provide many benefits to Canadians," says Lorne Hepworth, President, CropLife Canada. "Without pesticides, food production would drop and food prices would rise," said Hepworth. "Municipal regulation that restricts the use of registered pest control products works at cross-purposes to the federal regulatory regime for pest control products and deprives the public access to beneficial products." CropLife Canada feels that access to federally registered pest control products is an important issue to Canadians and that is why they are taking this to Canada's highest court. While there may not be a lot of farms in the City of Toronto, the Toronto by-law sets a troubling precedent for Canada's farmers. Giving municipalities the authority to regulate and ban pesticides, whether it be in urban or rural municipalities, denies farmers and others the benefits of the technology. "The Supreme Court needs to examine the other part of the equation - the benefit side," said Hepworth. In fact, studies show that without pesticides, production costs would go up by 75% and food retail prices would go up 27%.

Aug 10, 2005
Source :

State joins challenge to federal mercury rule

Michigan in US is the 15th state to challenge a new federal regulation of airborne mercury pollution from electric power plants, saying it's too weak. Michigan officials filed a motion (Aug 10, 2005) Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., asking to join a lawsuit that contends the rule lets coal-burning generators evade Clean Air Act requirements. "The federal rule falls far short of the measures needed to protect human health and the environment," said Steven Chester, director of the State Department of Environmental Quality. Eryn Witcher, spokeswoman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which developed the regulation, said the Bush administration would "vigorously defend this rule against any challenges."

August 11, 2005 By John Flesher
Source :

Committee members vote favorably on mercury legislation

The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture voted favorably to report out of committee an omnibus mercury bill, sponsored by state Rep. Douglas Petersen, D-Marblehead, and co-sponsored by more than 80 state legislators. Massachusetts, US Rep. Frank Smizik, D-Brookline, is House chairman of the committee. This bill phases out the sale of certain products containing mercury over the next several years including automobile switches, thermostats, thermometers and elemental mercury to schools. It also places disposal bans on mercury products and mandates manufacturers to label products that contain mercury and establish collection plans for those products."As the health effects of mercury are continually being discovered, we have a responsibility as legislators to pass laws that protect the health of the citizens of Massachusetts," Smizik said. "This legislation is long overdue, and Rep. Petersen has worked hard for years to bring this bill to the House floor. Our committee rewrite goes a long way to address the issue of mercury."

Aug 11, 2005
Source :

Environmentalists seek mercury level regulations

Reducing mercury levels in Pennsylvania, US has sparked a battle between state legislators and local environmental groups. At a press conference Aug 12, 2005 Friday afternoon at Williams Park in Springfield, environmental groups voiced their opposition to a letter sent by Rep. William Adolph (R-165) and other state legislators asking the Environmental Quality Board not to set state mercury level regulations. "We want to ask Rep. Adolph to rethink his opposition to strong mercury regulations," said Penn Future vice president Jan Jarrett.Penn Future was joined by environmental groups, The Sierra Club, Penn Environment and the Pennsylvania chapter of Rep America - a national grassroots organization of republicans for environmental protection - to ask that 90 percent mercury reduction be required for coal-fired power plants. The protest stemmed from a letter written by Pennsylvania state senators Mary Jo White (R-21) and Raphael Musto (D-14), along with Adolph to the Environmental Quality Board. The letter urged the board not to pass a Pennsylvania-specific mercury emissions standard and to rely on the Federal Air Pollution Control Act to rectify mercury problems.

By Drake Bearden , Aug 12, 2005
Source :

Uranium companies 'rewriting industry rules'

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has accused the Federal Government of allowing uranium mining companies to rewrite the regulations that govern the industry. The Government has set up a steering group to look at how to further develop Australia's uranium industry, while raising public awareness of its benefits. The group will aim to overcome impediments to the industry's growth and will comprise representatives of the mining industry, Indigenous communities and other groups. ACF campaigner David Noonan says the Government should switch its focus to what is best for the environment, not mining companies.

Aug 12, 2005
Source :

Proposed EPA rules on human testing come under attack

New rules drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect human subjects of scientific tests came under harsh criticism Aug 10, 2005 from environmental groups, government scientists and members of Congress, who called the proposal misleading, dangerous and industry-friendly. The 76-page draft, obtained by The Sun, was hurried to completion this month after Congress denounced this summer standards for EPA-related tests and noted health risks and ethical lapses in tests performed by the pesticide industry.
An introduction to the document promises more stringent rules, including tighter controls on human studies, the creation of an independent panel to evaluate the ethics of proposed studies, and protections preventing pregnant women and children from being used as test subjects.

By Andrew Schneider, Aug 11, 2005
Source :,1,5869652.story?coll=bal-home-headlines


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