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The anti-asbestos lobbyists go beyond the limits of decency in pursuit of their cause

January 12, 2011

As residents of Asbestos and Thetford Mines, we are profoundly shocked by the open letter recently signed by Canadian Kathleen Ruff and Japanese Sugio Furuya that was published in La Tribune at a time when the region is grappling with the tragedy that has touched the Moisan-Coulombe family and the entire community.

While the community comes together in solidarity, the hardliners for a total ban on chrysotile choose to take advantage of the situation to intensify their propaganda and send letters filled with accusations, half-truths and incomplete information to politicians in Quebec and Canada, and even the Prime Minister of Great Britain!

They question the credibility and good faith of anyone whose opinion differs from theirs. At the same time, they try to position themselves as experts, which they most certainly are not. There is nothing scientific about their approach. We are sick and tired of their disdainful attempts to portray our entire region, including the workers and their representatives, as an insensitive and incompetent lobby. We have been working for the safe use of chrysotile for decades, and have been at the forefront of every battle for safer workplaces to ensure that chrysotile is used in a controlled and responsible fashion. We aren’t perfect, but we know that the safe use of this product in daily life is possible.

On this front, we note that Mr. Furuya’s recent comments about asbestos during the very “organized” mission of the Asian delegation were wilfully garbled, because he never once clarified that for decades, Japan was a big user of blue asbestos (crocidolite), an amphibole that is extremely dangerous to health. Nor did he mention that for years, his country was heavily engaged in asbestos spraying, a practice that was banned decades ago due to the danger it poses. He also failed to indicate that Japan is a major promoter of kuralon (synthetic fibre – PVA), a chrysotile substitute whose safety is far from having been proven scientifically. Also noteworthy is Ms. Ruff’s silence on these issues.

The sole purpose of these activists is to exert pressure to prevent the government from proceeding with its loan guarantee to enable our mine to continue operating and workers in the region to earn a decent living. Not satisfied with the consultation process conducted by the CRÉ de l’Estrie, in which they participated but which did not agree with them, they are now continuing their attacks. They have gone so far as to encourage physicians who support their cause to ask the Quebec college of physicians to become involved in order to lend credibility to their viewpoint, which contrary to their claims, is not the least bit science-based. They are seeking to spread confusion by not distinguishing between amphibole and chrysotile fibres.

We are therefore proposing that the college of physicians not follow up on their frivolous request, and point out that numerous scientific studies confirm that chrysotile, used safely and according to standards, does not represent any measurable risk to health.

We also call for a quick decision by the government, which now has all the information it needs to proceed. Several thousand of us are waiting for the go-ahead so life can get back to normal and we can put an end to the harassment we have been suffering for far too long.

 

Serge Boislard

Mouvement PROChrysotile

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