Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell signed a bill into law last month which bars victims of asbestos related diseases from seeking recovery if their exposure was from the mining or use of gravel contaminated with naturally occurring asbestos. Representative Reggie Joule, the sponsor of HB 238, argued that the law is necessary to increase construction since development slowed down in areas contaminated with asbestos containing gravel after Alaska began enforcing federal workplace safety standards in 2003. Representative Joule acknowledged that the concentration of asbestos in gravel is very high in some places where he would like to see an increase in construction and that the asbestos does in fact become airborne when it is disturbed.
The law considers to be safe any gravel which contains .24% asbestos or less by volume. So long as gravel containing that amount of asbestos or less is mined, victims who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos related diseases from the disturbance of the asbestos contaminated gravel are barred from seeking recourse for their injuries or death. Senate Judiciary Chair Hollis French was part of a committee which wrote a limit to the legal immunity issue, however it was removed before it passed. French voted against the bill and stated, "I don't believe in blanket immunity because people get very very sick from asbestos. And there's no safe threshold of asbestos." The bill took effect immediately upon being signed by Governor Parnell.
1. Anderson, B. Governor Signs Naturally-Occurring Asbestos Bill. The House Majority. (2012 May 4). Retrieved from http://housemajority.org/item.php?id=item20120504-593
2. Donaldson, D. Bill Allows Use of Naturally Occurring Asbestos. alaskapublic.org. (2012 May 8). Retrieved from http://www.alaskapublic.org/2012/05/08/bill-allows-use-of-naturally-occurring-asbestos/