DUBIOUS DECISIONS' STAGGERING CONSEQUENCES: A STUDY DETAILS THE COSTS OF ASBESTOS REMOVING IN POLAND

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A detailed study of costs associated with banning and removing chrysotile in Poland reminds us of the staggering economic consequences of such decisions and once again raises questions about the real interests that motivated them.In a concise, well-documented paper published last June, Prof. Jerzy R.L. Diczek firstly reminds readers that before the government ban in 1999, 80 % of imported asbestos was used to produce fibrocement sheets utilized in roofing or facades of multistoried residential units, in villages and small towns all over the country. Unfortunately, about half of it were autoclaved plates (encapsulated fibres), containing not only chrysotile but also amphibole asbestos.Linked to people's stress and frustrations, non material costs are always left out of the equation, underlines the author; nevertheless, they are harshly felt in all communities affected. Having restated that important fact, Professor Diczek then details the effects of the asbestos ban and the various type of costs associated with its removal. More than 25 plants used the product up until 1998 and close to 4,000 jobs were lost: a rough calculation of job reductions, special benefits and health care costs alone brings the total to approximately US$500M. In itself, the cost of removing fibrocement sheets from roofs and facades will oscillate between US$4.18 Billions and US$7.17 Billions. And those are only a few of the enumerated expenses that the country has to face. Professor Diczek's overall estimates are conservative, lower (by approximately US$897M) than the Polish government's own figures. But whether the total amounts to about US$13,5 Billions or US$14,3 Billions, he eloquently demonstrates how the necessity to eliminate old material and use more expensive, asbestos free products is damaging the Polish economy, in the same way it is hampering the economic vitality of all European countries facing similar issues. To read full report http://chrysotileassociation.com/data/cost_estimation_poland.pdf

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