Asbestos: public hearings


26 October 2000
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

This Report is a Contact Natural Resource Information Service
Taking Parliament to People, and People to Parliament

The aim of this report is to summarize the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.

26 October 2000

Documents handed out:
Slide presentation from Asbestos User Group (See Appendix 1)
Slide presentation from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (See Appendix 2)

Committee members heard submissions from the Asbestos Users Group, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the National Union of Mine Workers, and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on the current problems of asbestos in South Africa. A question and answer period followed each submission.

Asbestos User Group (AUG)
Mr Brian Gibson began by discussing the aims of the National Asbestos Summit 1998, which was to review the health hazards involved in asbestos use and to look for alternative products to replace it. AUG is made up of eight different companies, including Everite Ltd, the largest user in South Africa representing more than 60% of the market. According to Mr Gibson in 1998 there was 20,000 tons of asbestos used in South Africa, imported mostly from Zimbabwe and with small contributions from local mines and Swaziland. Progress reports show that asbestos use this year has decreased 26% (or 14,693 tons) from 1998 levels and by the year 2002 will have decreased 57% (or 8,535 tons). For comparative purposes, Mr Gibson pointed out that Iran uses 65,000 tons of asbestos per year, Spain uses 30,000 tons of asbestos per year and the former Soviet Union uses approximately 700,000 tons per year.

The Company Progress Report, drafted in October 2000, found that most companies in the AUG have successfully decreased their manufacturing of asbestos-based products (see Appendix 1 for a detailed outline of this report). Mr Gibson stipulated that Mintex Don's low 35% conversion rate on brake linings is partly a result of high performance requirements on these products. Also Afrox has stated that they are unable to convert fully because the regulations regarding the dangerous materials they deal with, such as gas cylinders, are very strict.

While there have been positive developments regarding alternative fibers, such as cellulose and fiberglass, some specialised applications are still confined to asbestos use. Mr Gibson stressed that all respirable and durable fibers must be considered potentially harmful. The problem with asbestos fibers is that they are so small (about 3 microns in diameter, 5 microns in length) that they can be inhaled into the lungs and will remain there causing continual damage for up to 50 years. These fibers are resistant to the body's defense mechanisms that attempt to expel foreign matter and may cause scarring or infection. Mr Gibson emphasised that there is no guarantee that alternative fibers will not present the same risk with excessive exposure, and that the effects of exposure do not become apparent until years after the fact. He also noted that asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is present everywhere. And although the body can cope with low levels of exposure, prolonged exposure or exposure to large quantities of asbestos can be fatal. He outlined that asbestosis is a disease caused by asbestos exposure in occupational or para-occupational exposure only. He also talked about mesothelioma, a particularly gruesome type of lung or stomach cancer caused by blue and brown asbestos, which has a latency period of 20-45 years.

Asbestos is still in use because it is very tough and durable, energy efficient, cost effective, locally available, and is a natural and renewable resource. Everite has used asbestos for over 100 years in more than 3,000 different products. Mr Gibson said that Everite knew the risks associated with asbestos in the mid-1960s but did not adapt their product line until 1983 when they introduced a four-part "state of the art" program dealing with education and information, dust control, health surveillance, and research/development of alternative fibers. A national steering group, with multi-stakeholder oversight, was also set up in 1994 and given the authority to control policies and use of asbestos in South Africa. Research into alternative fibers began in the early 1980s, considering more than 400 different strains. In 1987 cellulose-based cement was introduced as "Nutec", but it was not strong enough to be used as roofing sheets. A breakthrough in 1998 increased the strength of Nutec's fiber matrix and made it strong enough to use for roofing. This improved Nutec was used abundantly in townships and other rural areas without evidence of contamination. It is safe and renewable and complies with SABS standards.

Mr Gibson noted that a R80 million plant in Gauteng that manufactures Nutec has replaced the Brackenfell plant in Cape Town, resulting in the loss of 350 jobs. Everite provides compensation to staff affected by the use of asbestos in the following manner: if an individual is 20% disabled they receive lump sum compensation, if they are 40% disabled they receive a pension and if an employee must retire from exposure to asbestos they will receive full benefits and pay until they reach old age as if they are still working. Mr Gibson pointed out that asbestos cement roofs do not present any risk to the occupants unless the cement is drilled out and asbestos dust is released. Because asbestos roofs do not emit fibers and are contained in cement matrixes, the chemical composition is changed and the asbestos becomes denatured. The precaution however, is that all asbestos-containing products be treated as raw asbestos and that users must avoid creating dust. The Nutec Trust Fund has been established which contributes R1 million per year towards the relief of asbestos sufferers.

Ms Ramatsonai (ANC) noted that some members had recently visited Zimbabwe to view asbestos businesses and to learn about the difference between types of asbestos. She said when they went to the hospitals they were told that there were no cases of asbestosis and that although there were many people suffering from lung problems, these were all attributed to normal effects of aging. She noticed that there had been no mining of blue or brown asbestos in this area, and asked for further comment.

Ms Semple (DP) inquired as to what happens to those asbestos products that are being replaced and no longer used.

Mr September (ANC) commented that since it's the disturbing of asbestos roofs that causes the problem, why are we replacing roofs at all? He also asked for clarity on underground asbestos-based water pipes.

Ms Chalmers (ANC) noted that most asbestos into South Africa is imported from Zimbabwe and Swaziland. The focus so far has been on products coming from Zimbabwe, has there been any research on those originating from Swaziland?

Mr Moorcroft (DP) brought the committees attention to the fact that most housing in Europe and America uses asbestos as an insulating material. He asked what prevents asbestos dust from escaping in these cases.

To answer the question about asbestosis in hospitals, Mr Gibson said that the doctors he has been in contact with in Zimbabwe are very committed and keep extensive health records. Where there is disease, they are able to trace it to previous exposure. He also noted that South Africa once believed none of its population suffered from the effects of asbestos. He proposed that the lack of evidence of asbestosis may be in part because of misdiagnosis (some asbestosis sufferers are misdiagnosed with TB), or that the clinics where diagnosis take place are not in the same areas as the mines. There is now a green card program in place where individuals who have worked in mines must indicate to their physicians that they have been exposed to asbestos.

Ms Verwoerd (ANC) then brought to the members attention a study done on the "crisis of asbestos and health in Zimbabwe", an analysis of mine workers in that area. She said that since independence in 1980, 300 cases of mine workers with lung problems were studied in which 51 were directly related to asbestos. Twenty-one of these were discovered to have radiographic evidence of asbestos particles in their lungs. Ms Verwoerd noticed that there had been no proper medical history collected for these workers. She also stipulated that lung cancer and mesothelioma are not listed as compensatory disorders in Zimbabwe, leading her to wonder if misdiagnosis may be beneficial to individuals seeking compensation. There is no capacity to follow up on workers that have left the mines, most returning to their region of origin. She asked what the effect of a total ban on asbestos in South Africa would be on Zimbabwe.

Mr September (ANC) expressed concern regarding job losses. He also asked what sorts of controls or preventative measures are available to affect dust emissions.

Mr Gibson said that he was not familiar with the article Ms Verwoerd has referred to but that he agrees that misdiagnosis is a common problem. Where compensation is an issue there may be a tendency to lean towards a misdiagnosis. He commented that in 1954, medical surveillance records show that 480 employees contracted asbestos related disease. A complete ban on asbestos would have severe economic effects as asbestos from Zimbabwe makes up the third highest foreign exchange, after gold and tobacco. Current doses of asbestos are no longer strong enough to cause any asbestos-related disease. Because of the latency period of asbestosis, the cases we are seeing today are based on levels experienced years ago.

At this point Mr J McCulloch (an Australian historian) expressed agreement with Mr Gibson about the impact of mine closure. He noticed that the economy of Zimbabwe is already under considerable strain. On the safety of mines, during a recent interview with 15 mineworkers it was discovered that all were aware of the dangers of asbestos and knew the conditions of their work. When asked how they know about the dangers, the men said that they have seen fellow workers get sick and die. Mr J McCulloch said that the doctors in Zimbabwe Mr Gibson referred to are not disease specialists. The committee must make a political choice between long-term health and the economy. We know that asbestos is hazardous, it is permanent to the environment, it does not degrade and that is causes fatal diseases. The choice is between public health and profits. He noted that the South African asbestos industry does not have a good history of treating its laborers or the environment. It is not good enough to say that there has been no medical research because there was, or that we did not know, or that it all happened in the past. Asbestos was mined in South Africa until as late as 1996.

After a short break, the committee reconvened to continue the question period.

Mr Moorcroft (DP) wanted discussion about rehabilitation. What are the effects of cattle roaming and water infiltration.

Mr Gibson agreed that there are some difficulties regarding rehabilitation. Large-scale dumps have been known to be over 100 meters high and are often in the path of water courses. So far there has been R8 million per year, with ½ million from DEAT, allocated to repair these dumps and mines.

Mr September (ANC) asked why the government is expected to rehabilitate mine dumps. What about the owners of mines and the mining industry?

Mr Gibson replied that industry and owners are being held accountable for rehabilitation, and that certainly for mines that are still in operation that this is the case.

Mr J Lengoasa (Chief Director of DEAT) commented that the mine dump issue is extended to those mines that are ownerless and derelict. It is not just asbestos mine dumps that are the problem but also gold mine dumps as well. The budget referred to earlier is only for asbestos dumping.

Ms Verwoerd asked for a copy of Mr Gibson's document and statistics.

Mr Gibson then replied to the question on disturbing water pipes and asbestos roofing. Research has showed that roofs do not release significant amounts of asbestos because these fibers are attached to cement fibers and so are no longer respirable. Studies done in townships and small towns have shown that background levels of asbestos are not affected by the installation of these roofs. The roofs are meant to last about 40 years but are, in actuality, used for up to 70 years with slight deterioration in the surface of the sheet. If taken off sensibly, there should be no excessive fiber release. If it is cut then very high levels of asbestos fibers are released at the site of the cut, but they dissipate quickly and three meters away from the lesion there is no asbestos detection.

Ms Semple (DP) wanted clarity on the houses in Preska. What happens to the old roofs?

Ms Verwoerd commented on the "trail of death" regarding asbestos use. Whereby products that are safe in the factory where regulations and safety precautions are effected become hazardous at the local contractor level where people are uneducated/unaware about usage dangers. She observed the need for more education regarding use especially in the townships where these roofs are kept longer (i.e. cover properly with paint, careful of the broken pieces, etc). She also mentioned that usually local, not highly skilled, contractors are used.

Mr Gibson replied that regulations require all asbestos material to be marked with a logo and that an instructional leaflet goes out with every load. There is an ongoing problem with remote areas where these precautions may not be adhered to, but that this increased risk will not lead to a "trail of death". If regulations are met and current allowable levels of background asbestos is not exceeded, it would take more than 300 years to develop an asbestos related disease. The concern lies in the manufacturing environment where staff handles raw asbestos. Precautions should always apply and education is highly important, although most people already know something about the dangers of asbestos.

Mr Peter Willis (The Natural Step) commented that even though current asbestos levels are low, they are not without risk. What is being done about asbestos fibers that have already been released into the environment, and what about job loss? There is a need to break the problem down to local initiatives, to involve community based teams of trained people to go into the effected areas and safely remove asbestos products. This would require the involvement of the local governments.

Ms Ramatsonai (ANC) then expressed discomfort with the fact that the Department of Labour has not been attending any of the meetings on this issue. People are looking to the Government to do something about this and, as compensation falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Labour, they should be involved. As it is, nothing is being done and people are dying in the meantime.

Chairperson Mahlangu agreed that the Department of Labour should have been in attendance and said that they have been repeatedly invited. She suggested that committee members submit a letter to the Minister expressing their discomfort.

Mr Gibson then responded to the question regarding underground water pipes and rainwater containers. World Health studies have indicated that ingested asbestos is not harmful because the water erodes the sharp edges on the particles and so they do not cause scarring or scraping of internal tissue. In Swaziland, the Mazoli is the only asbestos mine that is still active and it will close within a year or so.

Mr September (ANC) noted that because closure involves the release of asbestos fiber and therefore exposure, what effect will closure have?

Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked about the effects on individuals and what sort of follow up is done on medical after effects.

Mr Gibson said that he cannot answer on the process of exposure on behalf of the Swaziland government, but that this government is now identifying cases that need attention. He then said that asbestos is still used in isolated cases within South Africa as an insulating material in the space between roofs and ceilings. But that because it tends to deteriorate, removal must be done by an approved inspector and background levels must be monitored.

Ms Verwoerd mentioned that asbestos is also frequently used in telecommunication systems throughout Europe and the U.S. Mr Gibson confirmed this but said that asbestos has since been extensively removed from federal buildings, schools, etc. and that maintenance workers are informed on what buildings contain asbestos. Ms Verwoerd then suggested that South Africa should set an example by removing all asbestos-based materials from Parliamentary buildings, if any remains.

Ms M L Roux (The National Habitat Council) then asked for clarity regarding the composition of particular alternative fibers.

Mr Gibson responded that all durable and respirable fibers are potentially hazardous and so occupational health restrictions cannot be relaxed. Organic fibers like cellulose can be easily digested but mineral based fibers are more durable in the lung.

Ms Verwoerd noted that by the year 2005 all asbestos products will be banned. She expressed concern that smaller companies may not be as vigilant as larger ones on banning asbestos products. She asked for information on the export market of alternative fibers and what the legislation is on this.

Mr Gibson responded that a certain level of commitment is expected from all companies involved. The big asbestos companies are now suffering economically, though customers may get approval to use asbestos in specialized applications. Blanket bans don't always get applied successfully. He suggested that companies be required to apply for a tariff on products that will compete on non-asbestos products in South Africa, and that there be a prohibition on the importation of any asbestos containing material.

Mr Le Roux (DDP) aid there is a need to increase current levels of control on asbestos products. He wanted to know how dangerous it is to work in asbestos mines compared to other risky professions such as spray paint factories.

Mr Gibson noted that risks involved in mine work are much lower now than they once were and that workers at Everite today are not at any risk at all. The degree of risk involved in any work is a political question. As long as blue or brown asbestos is avoided, the risk is much lower than the acceptable legal limit.

Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)
Mr J Maluleke spoke about waste management, hazardous waste issues, and the Environment Conservation Act. He referred to the committee's concern regarding asbestos and water, and expressed disagreement with Mr Gibson's statement that asbestos has no effect on water quality. Asbestos particles in water that are ingested penetrate the internal body differently than if inhaled. He then stipulated that there are two ways of disposing asbestos material: co-disposal and mono disposal.
Co-disposal involves disposing asbestos-based materials that are joined with another substance. Mono disposal involves pure asbestos and requires permit application for the disposal site (ie. Design plans, operational plans, proof of land zoning). Mono disposal must be permanent, and in Pretoria and Bloemfontein there are sites ranging from low to high hazardous areas. There are problems finding transport for waste, applicants must often reapply for operational permits approved by the Department of Labor that include acceptance of asbestos waste.

Mr September (ANC) asked for clarity on the process of applying for permits. How many of these permits are issued per year? Presenters have suggested covering dumps with vegetation or cement, which is the better?

Ms Ramatsonai (ANC) noted that Mr Gibson has referred to these sites as "dumps" and Mr Maluleke has referred to them as "waste disposal sites". What plans are in the works for creating new waste disposal sites and what is the procedure for this, especially in regards to hazardous waste?

Mr Le Roux (NNP) asked where the waste from Port Elizabeth is dumped.

Mr Maluleke responded that permits are given to accept asbestos waste only to those that apply specifically for it. In reference to the capacity of these sites, there is a reasonable amount of space but there are problems with transportation (eg. Gauteng site). Port Elizabeth has applied for an amended permit, and currently the waste from there is taken to Cape Town for dumping.

Chairperson Mahlangu said that there is a lot of confusion and concern around permits to accept asbestos waste, especially because there are health problems relating to this.

Mr September (ANC) commented that the committee understands the there is not enough staff to regulate the processing of permits. But what happens after permits are given? Is there follow-up or monitoring involved? He asked the DWAF to please be honest with any problems they are experiencing.

Mr Maluleke confirmed that the restricted capacity of the Department is the biggest problem but that they are doing as much as they can to ensure that proper activities are being carried out. The permit is a legal document and if conditions are exceeded then there are subsequent actions that can be taken. He noted that the Kwa-Zulu Natal site that the members had recently visited was a new site.

Mr Gibson interjected that the Gauteng provincial government has independent monitoring committees on site and that there are creative ways to make up for the Department's lack of national capacity. He also mentioned the West Coast Monitoring Group.

National Union of Mine Workers
Mr Madliwa said that the known asbestosis cases are those that have been approved by the WCB and that effects are apparent at 15 years after initial exposure. Asbestosis cases are categorized by percentages and reported cases are those that are over 30% (these cases must be compensated). Asbestosis sufferers are also stigmatized and sometimes hindered from self-employment. The worker's union at Everite must ensure that current and future cases will be honored. Because the company may end up closing down, they can easily claim commitment to future cases of compensation. Mr Madliwa suggested that Group Five also be committed to take responsibility for compensation. Everite has failed to look after the health of its workers. The victims of asbestos exposure were told to go to whatever clinic was closest to them, so records and original files documenting asbestosis are incomplete and not compiled. Although Group Five has access to copies of health records, they are unable to get the originals.

Mr Madliwa also informed the committee about the surveillance program that has been put in place for individuals that have been exposed to asbestos. These individuals are made to carry a green card that is presented every time they visit their physician so that s/he knows that asbestos exposure is part of their client's health history. Mr Madliwa is concerned that although this system of surveillance is helpful up to a point, there is still no way to trace or monitor the health of these workers on the long term. He looks to the union to initiate programs to this end. Mr Madliwa also made clear that asbestos is dangerous in whatever form and that white asbestos should be treated just as carefully as blue or brown asbestos. From the Everite situation, it is clear that AUG is primarily concerned with profits. At the Asbestos Summit, Everite attempted to find substitute fibers while maintaining jobs, but now that the company is shutting down it wants to maintain profits so it is using the asbestos issue as an excuse for loss of jobs. Legislation should allow individuals, families, and surrounding communities to sue these companies. Right now it is impossible to do that. Did Everite do its job about educating users of asbestos? Currently some buildings containing asbestos are being demolished, these workers are being exposed and will continue to be exposed.

Ms Ramatsonai (ANC) noted the change of management from Everite to Group Five. She asked what portfolio committees can do to hold companies accountable, and who will be responsible for asbestos effects and issues of compensation. She asserted the need to deal with these questions now.

Mr September (ANC) asked for more information on the Industrial Health Organization.

Mr Madliwa clarified that the group in question is the Industrial Health Research Group. They were established at UCT and represent the interests, particularly regarding health, of workers.

Mr Moorcroft (DP) observed that the allegations held against Everite Ltd are quite serious. He asked Mr Gibson to comment on them.

Mr Gibson replied that he tries to stay out of industry relations issues between labor and management (eg. Issues of separation packages). The union movement has played a significant role in sensitizing management to these issues and there has been much progress. Factory closures have resulted from the drastic decline in the asbestos market. Many factories were forced to consolidate into one site. However, Group Five would not have invested in Everite Ltd unless they were certain that this transition would lead to success. Should Everite dissolve, Group Five would adopt all obligations. Group Five accepted all liabilities of Everite and is therefore obligated to its workers. It cannot escape this responsibility and there is no need for a recommitment.

Mr Madliwa suggested that legislation be tightened. He said that Group Five may be committed to meet obligations but that some issues are still under debate. Chairperson Mahlangu asked him to follow-up on this after the meeting and to obtain any documentation on the outstanding issues.

Ms Verwoerd (ANC) stated that it is also the responsibility of multinationals around the world to address how workers are being exploited. Although there is now a big push against asbestos use, there has been lots of financing towards the development of alternative fibers. There is potential for job creation which may deal with some of the concerns around job loss.

Mr Madliwa noted that since the company is closing down, the land should be transferred back to residents.

Mr September (ANC) observed that the area is isolated and the land full of asbestos. Mr Madliwa responded that the hospital is located far from the plant. Ms Ramatsonai said that workers have been there long before the company was there. They have a right to be there and they should be given preference to be granted land.

Chairperson Mahlangu noticed that families of victims of asbestos exposure are not covered under South African law. There is a need to educate laborers. Workers in the townships are most often just picked up from the street and are not skilled at all. Children often will play with broken pieces of asbestos and use them as chalk.

Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked who is responsible to look over the demolition of buildings, especially older buildings. Where is the old material disposed and how is the health of these workers being regulated?

Chairperson Mahlangu said there is a need for a center where people can take their problems to and have them looked after. She reminded members that they should be as subjective as possible and that some things are not defendable. She then said they should refer back to the recommendations made at the first Summit, notice that some moves have been made from the part of the Industry and that they are still not where they want to be with some issues.

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Mr J Lengoasa, the Chief Director of Environmental Quality and Protections for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) presented his report to the committee. He identified the key issues of the National Asbestos Summit in 1998, which includes the manufacturing, mining, and general use of asbestos. The DEAT was identified as the key governmental body responsible for watching over asbestos issues. Various other governmental bodies were also identified with specific responsibilities. The Summit recommended improving community involvement and linking it to rehabilitation, community development, initiating pilot programs on alternative technologies, national fundraising for rehabilitation, and the establishment of a national database on asbestos-related issues. Also emphasized was the importance of local involvement, compensation, risk assessment and public awareness/education. At the Summit, DEAT formed a Steering Group and secured donor funding for pilot projects in the year 2001. DEAT also held meetings and workshops on the use of asbestos as plaster material. The Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) looked at issues of rehabilitation and securing a database on dumps. As well as DEAT and DME, the Department of Health has also been active but other Departments have not moved on asbestos issues at all. The problems we still face today include secondary pollution, continuing deaths related to asbestos exposure, inadequate financial provisions and insufficient governmental involvement.
Mr Lengoasa suggested that the Departments be asked to provide proof or indicate what financial commitments they are willing to become involved in.

Ms Verwoerd asked for clarity regarding the plans of action, what steps are being taken to instigate a ban on asbestos products.

Mr Lengoasa replied that a major ban cannot be implemented immediately and that the drafting of this framework is what has been occupying the Department thus far. Some programs are being fast-tracked (i.e. plastic bag legislation), but there is a commitment to ban all asbestos types in accordance with the recommendations put forth at the National Asbestos Summit.

Mr September asked who has bore the brunt of funds used thus far. Mr Lengoasa replied that fundraising efforts has so far been linked with other issues and prograMs Mr Gibson stated that the Summit did refer to fundraising issues and that the DME talked about recovering costs of rehabilitation from the owners of derelict mines. In issues of compensation, there has been initiative to trace former employers and international donor organizations.

Mr September asked what progress the DME has made so far.

Mr Lengoasa said that 30% of mines have been rehabilitated to date and the R45 million has been spent towards this aim. R150 million will be required for the next 10-15 years. In Mpumalanga, 1 out of 12 mine dumps have been rehabilitated to date. In the Northern Cape, 23 out of 68 dumps have been rehabilitated. Progress has been slow and there is no requirement to follow up on rehabilitation efforts (these are also effected by natural occurrences).

Chairperson Ms G Mahlangu pointed out that new roads are often constructed on top of mine dumps. Ms Verwoerd added that blue asbestos is used in road construction, and asked what has been done about this practice. Public Works should be informed about the hazards around this and be told that it cannot continue. Mr Lengoasa clarified that Public Works is not involved in this issue.

Chairperson Mahlangu then noticed that the situation has not improved much since the Summit was held. Problems are still there and there is a need to discuss what to do now, especially in the Northern Cape where kids often will play next to a mine dump. She stated that all effected Departments must be present in the proceedings and the committee will give a report expressing their discontent by next Friday. She called for 4-5 members to compile the report, preferably members who are familiar with the Summit. Ms Mahlangu observed that white asbestos is dangerous as well, and thanked Mr Gibson for not defending issues that cannot be defended. She pointed out the flaws in current legislation whereby victims that have not been directly employed by asbestos companies cannot receive benefits they are entitled to. In reference to alternative fibers, she cautioned the committee against replacing a hazard with another hazard. Another Summit on asbestos issues will be held soon, and there should be another meeting with the stakeholders to discuss the developments in the last two years. The committee is aware of the economic benefits Zimbabwe receives from asbestos exportation and will be careful about how legislation will affect this region. She urged the committee to reach a conclusion on this issue and refrain from repeating concerns that have already been talked about. The debate is protection of profits versus the protection of health. Members should be the "eyes and ears of the people that cannot be here", and need to think about what needs to be done between now and the time Parliament reconvenes in February.

Ms Ramatsonai (ANC) agreed that there is a need to meet with all stakeholders involved to review progress thus far. She also expressed concern about Mr Lengoasa's comment that other Department's have failed to move on this issue at all. She asked why DEAT should take all the responsibility when others have agreed to be involved.

Ms Verwoerd noted that this committee has driven asbestos issues and she is proud to say that Chairperson Mahlangu's name is known overseas for her commitment in this area. She recommended that the report to go to the Department should accompany debate, and that space be given for this. The report may come in the form of three separate phases: one including recommendations from the committee, another on the Summit, and another as a compilation of reports from London, Zimbabwe and Brazil. She also suggested a photographic exhibition on victims of asbestos, such as that done in Brazil and Kimberton, be held in Parliament. Ms Verwoerd said it may be a good idea to appeal directly to individual Ministers, to ensure that sufficient budgeting in the various Departments is available.

Ms Chalmers noticed that there is no national database on asbestos issues and that data is currently spread between communities, unions, and different Departments. She said there should be a push for funding to get all this data compiled into one resource. Also, a national awareness campaign should be instigated to further public education on the hazards of asbestos, correct uses/applications, and how to apply for compensation. There is a need for substantial education, as so far only small initiatives have been experienced (i.e. isolated news stories). Ms Chalmers said that it is shocking that we don't even know the extent of damage that has been done from asbestos.

Mr Le Roux suggested the next Summit be held early next year. He said there should be an appeal to other Departments to participate, and that the committee should take a harder stance on this. The DoH and the DME still haven't finalized the standard protocol that they said would be complete as of last year. The Department of Trade and Industry also agreed to develop a task force - this hasn't been done either. The DWAF has only started participating in the proceedings for the first time today.

Chairperson Mahlangu thanked those in attendance for their participation and closed the meeting.

The copyright in this material subsists with the Contact Trust. Further distribution or copying of this material is prohibited without the prior agreement of the Contact Trust.


Appendix 1

AUG Progress Report - Oct 2000

  • Ferodo
  • 100% converted
  • Everite Building Products
  • 60% converted
  • 100% target June 2001
  • Mintex Don
  • 100% converted on disc brakes, 35% on brake linings
  • 100% target September 2001
  • Metpro
  • 80% converted (up from 20% in 1998)
  • 100% target end 2001
  • Klinger
  • 31% converted (up from 17% in 1998)
  • further conversion proving difficult

*** The following companies advance technical or economic arguments why they are unable to convert fully to asbestos

  • Afrox - technical restrictions regarding performance
  • Interohm - economic constraints
  • AC Pipes - no substitute fibers identified
  • Kapasit - non-asbestos domestic requirements imported, asbestos goods all exported - 30/70

Appendix 2

Jerry Lengoasa - Chief Director: EQ&P


October 25, 2000





  • Asbestos Summit
  • 24-26 November 1998
  • Parliamentary Working Group on Asbestos
  • Problem is multi-dimensional
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Use
  • Integrated Stakeholder Process
  • Steering group led by DEAT


  • Recommendations + Actions Plans
  • Government Department Responsibilites
  • "User Group" responsibilities


  • Community Development and Rehabilitation (DME)
  • Community development linked to rehabilitation
  • Initiate pilot projects on alternative technology
  • Establish national database
  • National task force for fundraising


  • Health Remediation and Compensation (DoH)
  • Public awareness and Education
  • Coordinated local involvement
  • Compensation
  • Risk Assessment


  • Regulatory System (DEAT)
  • Asbestos Ban
  • Asbestos Advisory Group

Asbestos Industry and Future Applications (DTI)

  • Phase out asbestos
  • Substitution programme


  • DEAT
  • Formed Steering Group
  • Held meetings and workshops
  • Raised issue on CEC agenda
  • Submitted Cabinet Memorandum
  • Completed specification for Feasibility study for Secondary Pollution clean-up
  • Secured


  • Rehabilitation continuing
  • Have database of Dumps
  • New tender process for rehabilitation work


  • Some activities achieved



  • 1998 Court of Appeal granted five people to continue with claims in London
  • 1999 Previous Decision was changed after invention by Cape PLC
  • Feb 2000 House of Lords gave leave to appeal to this decision
  • Appeal won in June 2000


  • Cabinet Update - November 2000
  • Feasibility Study Implementation - 2001
  • Law Reform - 2001
  • Steering Group Meeting to review progress


  • Secondary Pollution problem remains
  • Deaths continue
  • Financial provision inadequate
  • Government progress slow


No related


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

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