MAC: Mines and Communities

MPs slam Rio Tinto over asbestos payout moves

Published by MAC on 2001-11-29

MPs slam firm over asbestos payout moves

(See also text of the second Early Day Motion on this issue)

Thursday 29th November 2001

Alexandra Wood

The former owners of Capper Pass, the world's largest tin smelting works, were condemned yesterday for trying to exclude asbestos-related diseases from a claims process to compensate its poisoned workers and their families.

An early day motion tabled in the House of Commons by North Hull MP Kevin Mcnamara, and signed by four other MPs, expressed "grave concern" that former Capper Pass workers and their families were still waiting for the scheme, set up by Rio Tinto 15 months ago, to get under way.

Suddenly in the final stages of negotiation, solicitors for the families were told asbestos-related diseases would be excluded - potentially preventing many from fully staking their claim.

Of the six cases now lodged before a board of experts sitting in London, asbestos was significant in three, said David Russell, who is acting for the families.

Many former workers at the factory, near Hull, have suffered from lung disease, in which asbestos had played a part. According to former workers asbestos was used in the roof cladding at the factory, and in shed walls.

When it got worn, employers were told to break it up and throw it into one of the blast furnaces or bury it on site, spreading potential contamination further.

Mr McNamara told the Yorkshire Post yesterday that various unkind inferences could be drawn from Rio Tinto "once again dragging its heels''.

He added: "The panel was raring to go and out of the blue they get this.

"A lot of the claims are for people who have already died and there are many who are ill.

Extra material from Michael Gray of the PARTiZANS
(People Against Rio Tinto [Zinc] And its Subsidiaries):-

"Rio Tinto have constantly attempted to block the people of East Yorkshire, England from finding out what they were doing in their operations at the Capper Pass Tin Smelter near Hull. The former plant is linked to causing a high incidence of illnesses and deaths with the local population and employees.

The people affected brought a class action against Rio Tinto, which is set to have the potential for unprecedented damages within the UK. However, Rio Tinto have been using dirty tactics to avoid release of documents relating to employees health and also public documents whereby they refused to give consent.

Rio Tinto claims to be environmentally friendly and caring in their approach to indigenous peoples. But this cannot be further from the truth. Even in their home country they set about poisoning a county which was densely populated, wreaking havoc on the environment, local people, including young children who played in a school grounds whilst their chimney threw out poisonous radioactive materials.

Even the British Government covered up their wrong doings as far back as the early 1970's and they got away with it and thanks to the British Judicial system, they have never been prosecuted for the illnesses, Deaths and breaches of health and Safety Law in the UK. This company has friends in high places in the UK and anyone that stands with Rio Tinto or has stakes in the company has the blood of many people on their hands. I believe that Rio Tinto are responsible for my father's death and I know that I will be able to prove this soon."

Max Watts has written an article on Capper Pass "How Rio Tinto broke the 11th commandment - being caught...", which has been published in Green Left Weekly #412 on July 19, 2000.

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