Speaker, Friday, September 16
Eric Jonckheere is a Belgian airline pilot. Asbestos is part of his everyday environment since 1937. His grand-father Paul was a key player in keeping the Eternit factories open during WW2. Pierre, his father, worked at Eternit as an engineer. He grew up in Kapelle, north of Brussels. It was paradise until the passing of Pierre due to mesothelioma in 1987. He was 59. Then his mother, Francoise, and brothers, Pierre-Paul and Stephane, suffered from the same cancer, respectively in 2000, 2003 and 2010. He became an anti-asbestos activist when he realized many families couldn’t speak up. The entire village suffers from extensive environmental exposure but the local politicians and union leaders are at the mercy of the plant’s owners. Since their victory in the Brussels court, they have moved the case-law and the knowledge of the dangers of asbestos to the general public. As president of ABEVA, it’s important to share experiences across borders.