Judge Rejects Criminal Complaint by Eternit Against Inspector
The Company Requested a Conviction of Engineer Fernanda Giannasi for Defamation
The White Lung Association is happy to announce that Inspector Fernanda Giannasi has had the legal attack from the Eternit rejected by Brazilian Courts. The WLA joined with scientists and occupational health experts from all over the world to protest the unjust persecution of Ms. Giannaso by the multi-national asbestos giant.
Following is the translation from O Estado de Sao Paulo,
Headline: Judge Rejects Criminal Complaint by Eternit Against Inspector: The Company Requested a Conviction of Engineer Fernanda Giannasi for Defamation
by Arnaldo Galvao
The judge of the Second Criminal District of the Pinheiros Forum (Sao Paulo city) rejected the criminal complaint filed by Eternit against Fernanda Giannasi, an engineer and inspector of the Ministry of Labor. The company had brought the complaint for the crime of defamation because she had claimed in writings on the Internet and in interviews that Eternit constituted part of an "asbestos mafia" which was "co-opting public officials" and carrying out "blackmail" and "misleading propaganda."
The inspector asserted that ex-employees were being pressured to sign agreeements with Eternit which obliged them to give up the right to sue the company for liability in the future for health damages. The inhalation of asbestos for a long time can cause pulmonary fibrosis and cancer.
Eternit has already had more than 300 agreements approved by the courts which stipulate that former employees will receive between US$5,000 to US$15,000 for having been exposed to asbestos, and will be guaranteed medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
Fernando Castelo Branco, the attorney for Eternit, said that he is waiting
to see the publication of the full text of the decision in the Official
Diary of the State [of Sao Paulo] in order to decide, together with management,
the company's next judicial initiative. "We may appeal this decision,
which we consider to be wrong, or ask to be reimbursed for losses and
damages, since the image of the company is being affected by the words
The Press Relations office of Eternit issued a statement which noted that "despite its well-known reputation in the asbestos-cement sector and the fact that the company meets all the legal requirements for the exercise of its activities, the firm has been the target of constant, unfounded criticism on the part of persons who cite facts which are offensive to its reputation, with an undoubted intention to defame."
Eternit controls the Sama-Mineracao de Amianto S.A., [Sama Asbestos Mining,
Inc.] which employes 610 workers in Minacu, Goais state. Its activities
are also responsible for approximately 300 secondary jobs. According to
the company press relations office, a tripartite agreement, signed by
the company, the labor union, and the federal government specifies even
stricter rules than those required under government legislation for the
The law sets a limit of two asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter of air in the work environment, but the agreement reduced the allowable limit to 0.8 fibers. The employees can stop production if they are now guaranteed a safe environment.
Antonio Luiz Aulicino, president of Eternit [do Brasil], points out that Sama is the first asbestos mine in the world to optain the ISO 14001 certificate for environmental management.
In order to earn this certificate of environmental management, the company's Sama mine in Minacu replanted 150,000 square meters of vegetation and maintains a nursery of 30,000 young trees for replanting. The company is also responsible for Project Quelonios, which raises turtles for environmental education and study in the community.