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

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Online education 'driving' digital divide: $1.97 bn industry's paid users grow at 6x rate

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, in a new report in the series on Lockdown on Civil Liberties focusing on education has said that there is a huge “push-out” children due during the pandemic, with deepening digital-divide playing a major role.