Claudio Dellecarbonara, member of the AGTSyP Executive Secretariat, spoke with Ernesto Tenembaum Radio Con Vos. He began by explaining the modality of the staggered stoppage that is being carried out while the interview is taking place: “These are measures that we are carrying out trying not to paralyze all the lines together, trying to warn of this situation that we have been denouncing for five years due to the presence of carcinogenic material prohibited in the entire area of the underground since until now we have not had the answer we need. Not only the workers but the millions of users who use the service”.
Regarding the verification of the danger of this material, he indicated that “there are specialists in the subject, there are doctors, there are safety and hygiene engineers. But, above all things, there is a national law and a ruling by the Buenos Aires justice in response to an environmental protection that we have presented in 2020 because the company and the city government appealed in the first instance. The ruling clearly says there is asbestos in the subway. It is dangerous, it should not be in contact with people and it must be removed. And so far, neither the concession company nor the city government have complied with this. Even the World Health Organization raises the danger of what this mineral carcinogen is.
“We already have three deceased colleagues, six who have developed cancer and 90 affected when medical examinations have not yet been carried out on all the subway workers. In addition, we have also confirmed that there are contaminated users, “he warned in relation to the exposure of workers and users.”
“Including the ART contracted by the company, it has also been determined by the Superintendency of Occupational Risks. There is no doubt that it has to do directly with the exposure to asbestos present in the subway, ”he added.
The interviewer’s questions allowed Claudio to explain to what organs this material affects: “Asbestos can affect different organs of the reproductive system, the digestive system, the respiratory system. Even the heart. In general, it affects the lungs or the pleura that covers the lungs, which is the membrane that covers it. The colleagues who died and those who have developed cancer and those who are affected, all have lung disease”.
He also had the opportunity to detail what is being talked about when talking about the presence of this element in the subway: “We have it in the trains, but we also have it in fixed installations, walls, ceilings, paintings, electrical installations, sanitary installations. Having gone so long without it being removed, the fibers have volatilized and are present throughout the tunnels, stations, entrance halls”.
Regarding the attitude of the government and the company towards the request of the workers, he said: “There is a plan that began five years ago when we discovered the presence of asbestos. Although the company and the different governments knew, we discovered it, we demonstrated it. First the company and the City Government denied it. After the evidence was irrefutable, they agreed with us”.
“And due to the action of this union, of our organization, we have pushed the company on many occasions to remove asbestos from many of the places where it was. Through our action through this campaign, which we have not stopped doing for five years, we have achieved the removal of almost 100 tons of asbestos from the subway. But there are still many more to remove, at least three times as many tons of asbestos from the subway, and what we are demanding is that there be a comprehensive de-asbestosization plan, which is what there is not. Let there be a replacement of the contaminated fleets. They should have started a tender process to switch this fleet five years ago and we are still waiting. And obviously we are demanding a reduction in the working day to minimize the effects of all the security factors that exist in the subway, ”he said in reference to the fight they have been giving.
Then he returned to the technical details. Dellecarbonara denied one of the most repeated hoaxes used by the Buenos Aires government and Emova: “The more time you spend exposed, the more likely you are to get contaminated first and develop a disease later. The World Health Organization itself states that in relation to carcinogens such as asbestos there is no safe exposure time. No safe exposure value. What the company says about the measurements that give them low values to try to justify that there is no danger is a lie. There is no exposure value that is certain.”
In this regard, he ruled that “there is a quasi-criminal attitude of the company that when we are complaining, not only does it not give us an answer, but it also advances with unjustified sanctions. They deduct twenty-five days a month from the salaries of many of our colleagues illegally to try to stop us from denouncing this situation, which is a true health crisis, is an attack on public health.”
“We have presented notes not only to the Undersecretary of Labor to open a joint table to discuss working conditions, but we have also presented a request to Minister Quiroz to the City Ministry of Health to intervene. Until now we have not had any call for any dialogue channel or any response to this situation in which the lives of millions of people are at stake, ”he concluded.