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Asbestos Litigation

U.S. firm could be taken to federal court over Australian asbestos controversy
A U.S.-based company that is currently building a number of liquefied natural gas processing plants on Curtis Island in Queensland, Australia, may be taken to federal court over an asbestos-related wage issue for workers.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) in Australia claims that tests completed on pre-built electrical switch rooms imported by San Francisco-based Bechtel from Indonesia contain white asbestos, a banned import in Australia. The union claims staff members who refused to continue working until the test results came in were forced to endure a pay cut, according to the news source.

Peter Ong, an official with the ETU, told the media outlet that the union is considering taking the matter to court because it was not resolved during a Fair Work Australia hearing.

"Our traditional or normal sort of procurement activity, including with this supplier, requires basically that the supplier build it in accordance with the Australian rules and regulations and importation laws," Berg told the news provider. "So it actually calls out by name that no asbestos be included."

The concerns among union leaders and the workers are not unfounded, as exposure to asbestos has been proven to cause a number of serious illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer.

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