SP expresses satisfaction with asbestos investigation: now it's time for action!

4 November 2005

SP expresses satisfaction with asbestos investigation: now it's time for action!

With the presentation of several reports on asbestos in the district of Goor, a scientific basis has at last been provided for a reality long recognised by the SP. In the Goor region people continue to die from mesothelioma – cancer of the pleura, the tissues of the pulmonary wall – as a consequence of exposure to asbestos in the environment. SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen expressed her satisfaction with the results of the investigation, but is also disappointed that the government has said nothing about the polluter's responsibility for the damage caused.

The fact that the Secretary of Sate for the Environment, in reacting to the report, has said nothing about Eternit's culpable role in the affair represents a missed opportunity, as Ms van Velzen points out: “It means that the taxpayer will have to pay the costs of the additional measures which the Secretary of State will be taking. It is simply incredible that Eternit will get away with this. I will be asking Mr Van Geel next week to explain his cowardly attitude.”

In the Goor region the asbestos cement firm Eternit, despite knowing of its dangers, for many years distributed waste products from its factory to unsuspecting members of the public. Paths and yards were paved with this material and the deadly asbestos contained within it had a devastating effect on local people in and around Goor. In addition, the various local authorities were for a very long time unwilling to take any action against this appalling contamination.

Now, many years later, people in the area are dying from mesothelioma, despite never having been exposed to asbestos at work. The only demonstrable cause is asbestos in the environment, for example from the paving on paths. Together with the Asbestos Victims' Committee, the SP has long demanded recognition for those who have suffered. With today's publication of this report it has been demonstrated beyond doubt that people have indeed died and continue to die from mesothelioma brought about by exposure to asbestos in the environment.

Ms Van Velzen: “Van Geel said today that he is shocked by the results and that he will now look into the question of whether standards must be tightened up as well as ensuring that the paths in the area are decontaminated. I've tried for many years to put pressure on the government to do this, and I'm just glad that in the end they have been forced into it by urgent necessity.”

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