Victims of Asbestos Protest Proposal to Reopen Quebec’s Jeffrey Mine

As the Quebec government considers a proposal to re-open the bankrupt Jeffrey asbestos mine by a group of investors – a deal that would involve $58 million in provincial loan guarantees – Ontario families of asbestos victims held a news conference in Toronto in early November. The group, mainly from the Sarnia area, related heartrending stories of the ravages of mesothelioma and the other lung problems engendered by exposure to asbestos.

The group, with the backing of Sarnia’s mayor, invited Baljit Chadha, the lead investor in the proposed project, to come to Sarnia, Ontario and meet with asbestos victims and their families. Sarnia’s waterfront is home to a memorial to the workplace victims of asbestos exposure. The victim’s group went even further, urging government help for workers currently at the remaining asbestos mines in this country in order to transition to other industries.

Mr. Chadha is president of Balcorp Ltd., an international marketing and investment firm based in Montreal, and hopes to revive the Jeffrey asbestos mine – the world’s second largest – with a view to exportation of asbestos to the developing world, including his native country of India along with Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The Jeffrey Mine contains chrysotile asbestos, and in the face of growing protests, company representatives went so far earlier this year as to say they do not believe this variety of asbestos to be harmful to humans. Will the Quebec government continue to support this industry, and will Mr. Chadha visit Sarnia?

The hazards of asbestos are well documented, and may be present in a wide variety of areas in your own home here in the GTA, including siding, ceiling tiles, insulation and more, particularly if your house was built before 1970.

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