Abandoned Asbestos Mines Still a Hazard in India

“Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, hazardous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind. In Roro Village and other settlements below, people who never worked in the mines are dying of lung disease. Yet in a country that treats asbestos as a savior that provides cheap building materials for the poor, no one knows the true number and few care to ask. Neither the government nor the Indian company that ran the mines from 1963 to 1983 has made any move to clean up the estimated 700,000 tons of asbestos tailings and debris left scattered across several kilometers (miles) of hilly mining area.

India placed a moratorium on asbestos mining in 1986, acknowledging it was hazardous to miners. But that was the government’s last decision curtailing the spread of asbestos. It has since embraced the mineral as a cheap building material. Today, India is the world’s fastest-growing market for asbestos. India keeps no statistics on how many people have been sickened or died from exposure to asbestos, which industry and many government officials insist is safe when mixed with cement. Western medical experts strongly disagree. The World Health Organization and more than 50 countries, including the U.S. and all of Europe, say it should be banned in all forms. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause many diseases”. – Katy Daigle via The Associated Press.

1
In this September 11, 2014 photo, Jema Sundi sits outside her home in barren hills where asbestos waste was dumped is visible in the background in Roro, India. An asbestos mine, abandoned nearly three decades ago still affects the people around it and 18 along with Jema were diagnosed with asbestosis in 2012. Tens of thousands more, some former mine workers, remain untested and at risk. (Photo by Saurabh Das/AP Photo)
Continue reading »