Sunday, September 05, 2010

Asbestos flooding B.C. with a 'steady stream of death'

read the full article: Vancouver Sun, September 5, 2010
In Trail, B.C., United Steelworkers officials began noticing several years ago that many workers who had retired from the Teck (formerly Cominco) zinc and lead smelting plant were coming down with asbestos-caused diseases.

They called a town meeting. About 80 victims and family members showed up. At the next meeting, 130 came. Now, the union has identified nearly 100 victims, people who toiled in the smelter from the late '40s to late '70s.

"I've seen first-hand what some of these people go through, and their families go through, and their grandchildren, and it's just horrible," says United Steelworkers Local 480 president Doug Jones.

"Somewhere along the way somebody has to be accountable for that. Someone has to be responsible for the shortened lives that people live and the pain and suffering that all the families go through. It just doesn't seem fair."

Teck spokesman Richard Deane says the company spends up to $2 million a year removing asbestos from its plant. "Ever since the negative health effects of asbestos were known we've been working diligently to remove and deal with any trace of asbestos," Deane says, adding that the company's responsibility to sickened workers is covered by its contributions to WorkSafe.

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