Asbestos looking for another name

Asbestos you want to change your name. This town of 7,000 inhabitants in the province of Quebec (Canada) you want to move out of a material associated with seri

Asbestos looking for another name

Asbestos you want to change your name. This town of 7,000 inhabitants in the province of Quebec (Canada) you want to move out of a material associated with serious diseases. In English, asbestoses asbestos (in Spanish also used asbestos); a group of minerals, a fibrous, used especially in the construction industry, which has been banned in dozens of countries. According to the World Health Organization, can cause cancer of the lung, larynx and ovaries, as well as asbestosis (a type of pulmonary fibrosis).

In late November, the city council announced the decision via Facebook, noting that, by its negative connotation, to be called Asbestos, “constitutes a brake on the will to develop economic relations with the outside world”. Some neighbors had pointed out to the councillors the difficulty of doing business in the united States and in the canadian provinces outside of francophone Quebec, and the reluctance of some businesses to locate in the town because of the name.


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Between 1881 and 2011 operated in this locality, the Jeffrey mine, which in its periods of increased activity provided half of the world's supply of asbestos. In 1899, several of the workers and their families founded the village. The city Council has called for a meeting today with the residents to begin to consider a new name. “We decided to change the name thinking of the future generations”, explains the press release city, “but it is essential to assess the history of our community.”

The local Chamber of Commerce —which encompasses seven towns of the region— sees the project with good eyes. Also several neighbors have shown their support through social networks, claiming that it is necessary to think in the future, even if it is a matter of moving by the historical links. However, opinions to the contrary are numerous.

“Asbestos was founded thanks to the asbestos. The mine allowed the town to develop, and people feel proud. This is more important than the negative reactions that causes the name among some entrepreneurs from outside,” he says by phone Jeff Ray Therrien, a neighbor of Asbestos for 34 years, which launched in December an online petition to demand a referendum. “If it wins the yes, go ahead. We live in a democracy. What is more serious is that the population has not been consulted”. So far, 613 people have signed their petition on the Internet; Therrien wants to do the consultation paper, which says that already there are elderly residents who do not use the Network, but it is opposed to a change, which, he says, will be expensive.

According to the mayor of Asbestos, Hugues Grimard, the name change will cost about 100,000 canadian dollars (68.500 euros); and a citizen consultation, would amount to 55,000 more (37.700 euros). Therrien does not lower the arms. “We're going to participate in the meeting [today]. We will be many,” he says, citing that you have an appointment with the mp of the constituency: “we Want to take the case to the National Assembly”.

Canada banned asbestos in 2018. However, the federal Government allows the exploitation of the waste produced during decades because of the mines, with the aim of obtaining magnesium. In Asbestos there are about 400 million tons of these residues. After a series of meetings between government representatives, entrepreneurs, researchers in public health and citizens to discuss the project of extraction of magnesium, the Ministry of Environment shall determine if this meets the necessary conditions of security.

According to the Ministry of Economy, the initiative could create 600 jobs and profits in the millions, since the residue contains between 20% and 25% of magnesium. However, the Ministry of Health argues that the wastes have similar percentages of asbestos fibers.

The rate of asbestos-related diseases in Asbestos is nine times higher than in the rest of Quebec. The town will change its name, but it may be that their relationship with the hazardous material will continue.

Date Of Update: 09 January 2020, 16:00