Court Case Jonckheere – Eternit Belgium - 28/03/2017
Today the court ruled in the case filed by Ms Françoise Vannoorbeeck. She was the wife of Mr Pierre Jonckheere, a former employee of Etex company Eternit in Kapelle-op-den-Bos. Ms Vannoorbeeck died from exposure to asbestos which dates back to the 1950s.
Etex recognises and regrets that due to the use of asbestos in the past, including by some Etex companies, people became ill and died.
Together with the management of our company in Kapelle-op-den-Bos, we will read and analyse the court’s decision.
3,000 applications in many sectors and professions
Asbestos is a societal problem that transcends Eternit. After all, in the mid 20th century, the mineral was used worldwide in most major industry sectors (insulation, construction, chemicals, metal, railways, energy…) and by numerous companies.
Given its insulating, heat-resistant and material reinforcing properties, asbestos was used, among other things, to produce brake discs in cars, asbestos insulation around heating pipes, a wide variety of household items (ovens, central heating, hair-dryers, toasters…) and as air-placed asbestos in ships and buildings. Asbestos was used in over 3,000 applications, one of which was asbestos cement, produced by Eternit. Given its fire-resistant properties, at one point, asbestos was even actively promoted by the government.
In line with scientific knowledge and legislative developments, Etex companies took measures to limit exposure to asbestos and then in 2002 to stop its use worldwide. In Europe, it was banned completely in 2005. Today, despite all the knowledge we have about it, in many countries (including Brazil, Russia and China), asbestos is still used on a large scale.
Dealing carefully with the past
We cannot undo the past, but we can deal with it as carefully as possible. Etex-companies implement a policy that recognises and compensates asbestos victims, prevents exposure and supports medical and scientific research. Between 2012 and 2020 we will have donated 6 million euro to researchers via the Stichting tegen Kanker (Foundation against Cancer).
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