Skip to main content

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

Inside a UK asbestos factory in 1994 before the mineral was banned
By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.
Giving the instance of a one such company, CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd, which has offices several countries across the world, the top newspaper says, “Every month thousands of tons of the substance are shipped by or on behalf of CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd from Sverdlovsk Oblast, an asbestos mining area in the Russian Urals”. 
It adds, “Most of it ends up in India, the world's second-largest consumer of asbestos behind China, where it's used by the construction industry to make roofing sheets and as insulation for brake linings.”
According to the report, “Import data reveals that in February, 2,128 tons of ‘chrysotile raw asbestos’, worth $1.21m were shipped from Russia by or on behalf of CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd to the Indian ports of Nhava Sheva, near Mumbai, and Mundra.”
The report says, “Data obtained by ‘The Sunday Times’ from Russia's customs and excise service reveal that, in 2015, CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd was responsible for 741 shipments of chrysotile asbestos, totalling 65,324 tons and valued at $38.7m (£30.8m), to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Mexico.”
And, “between August 1 and September 28 last year, it arranged 104 shipments, totalling 3,283 tons of asbestos and worth $1.33m destined for India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.”
“The Sunday Times”, which along with “The Times” won “the daily and Sunday newspaper of the year categories at the British Press Awards for “writing, reporting, investigations and campaigns”, in its report titled “Revealed: the Scottish links to asbestos trade”, says, ironically, the company’s owner, based in “Highland town of Nairn, Ion Petrow” and his family are locally highly respected for their interests in community development.
Thus, the company has been a sponsor of the Nairn Book and Arts Festival, but says the report, unknown to the festivalgoers, Petrow family businesses across the world have been “shipping asbestos to the developing world.” Blaming Petrow for this, the report says, “As well as being a pillar of the community, Petrow is a director of one of the world's biggest traders in the deadly mineral, estimated to cause 107,000 deaths annually.”
Banned in 66 countries across the world, says the report, for “many Scots, asbestos and its lethal effects represent a chapter from the nation's industrial past best forgotten, when shipyard and other workers suffered painful, lingering deaths after their lungs were exposed to its deadly fibres.”
Apart from India, the report says, other shipments go to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mexico and Indonesia. Thus, records show, on January 30 and May 15 this year, the company shipped 54 tons of chrysotile fibre from St Petersburg to Charleston, South Carolina, from where it was transported by sea to Mexico.
UN recommendation to ban hazardous chrysotile asbestos was blocked by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, India and Syria, meaning it can still be traded without restrictions
Pointing out that “Russia is the material's largest producer, responsible for 650,000 tons, with 220,000 coming from Kazakhstan and 100,000 tons each from Brazil and China”, the report says, “In 2015 almost half of the asbestos mined in Russia, 313,000 tons, was traded by UK-registered companies, including one based in Scotland, according to Russian customs documents.”
Giving the instance of another company, the report says, one of the biggest traders in Russian asbestos has been Minerals Global Trading LLP, "formerly based at an industrial estate unit in Wood Green, London”.
“Reported to control Orenburg Minerals, Russia's biggest producer of asbestos, and Kostanai Minerals, Kazakhstan's main producer, it arranged the export of 263,660 tons of asbestos, worth a total of $71.4m for use in India, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2015”, it adds.
Noting the role of Indian policy makers in opposing ban on asbestos across the world, the report says, “Despite a report by the World Health Organisation that all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), chrysotile is not listed as a hazardous substance by the Rotterdam convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.”
In 2006, the UN-backed convention's chemical review committee called for chrysotile to be included in its list of "hazardous substances" that includes other variants of asbestos. “Its recommendation was blocked by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, India and Syria, meaning that chrysotile can still be traded without these restrictions”, regrets the report.
“Despite being banned by the Supreme Court of India in January 2011, chrysotile continues to be used widely due to a lack of enforcement and ignorance of its lethal effects”, the report says, quoting to Dr Abhishek Shankar, chairman of the clinical cancer committee of the Asian Pacific Organisation for Cancer Prevention.

Comments

Bridget Rooney said…
I work with mesothelioma.com, an organization aimed to raise awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure and the aggressive cancers linked to it. I thought I'd reach out after I read your article, "British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices."
Helping to educate others on the dangers of asbestos is one of the most motivating parts of my job and I was wondering if there is at all a possibility of adding our mesothelioma page as an informational resource so readers can find out more about the risks of asbestos exposure? It would fit well here:
"Noting the role of Indian policy makers in opposing ban on asbestos across the world, the report says, “Despite a report by the World Health Organisation that all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), chrysotile is not listed as a hazardous substance by the Rotterdam convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.”"
Uma said…
Back in the days of the Raj??? UK says 'dump' and we say 'yes, master'.

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.