In Asbest, Russia, Making Asbestos Great Again – by Andrew Higgins (New York Times – April 7, 2019)

ASBEST, Russia — Sniped at for decades by health advocates, Russia’s doggedly defiant producer of asbestos — a substance banned as a killer by more than 60 countries — thinks it has perhaps finally found the perfect figure for a campaign to rehabilitate the product’s deeply stained image: President Trump.

“Trump is on our side,” said Vladimir V. Kochelayev, chairman of the board of Uralasbest, one of the world’s few remaining producers of asbestos, citing what he said were reports that the Trump administration was easing restrictions on asbestos use.

The United States stopped mining asbestos in 2002, but the material still pours onto the world market from a huge hole in the ground in Russia’s Ural Mountains.

The surrounding city, where nearly every family depends in one way or another on a substance that the World Health Organization says is a serial killer, is called simply Asbest, the Russian word for asbestos.

Canada has a town called Asbestos, too, but it stopped producing the stuff years ago and has toyed with changing its name to something less off-putting. Its Russian twin, where locals seldom if ever question the wisdom of mining asbestos with explosive charges that stir up thick clouds of dust saturated with asbestos fibers, sees no reason to do anything like that.

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