February 8, 2006

Asbestos fund will be $150 bln short: analysis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A proposed fund to compensate people
suffering from asbestos-related diseases would have at least a
$150 billion shortfall, according to an analysis by Senate
Budget Committee Democrats made public on Wednesday.

The committee's ranking Democrat, Kent Conrad of North
Dakota, said he feared taxpayers would have to pay the
shortfall if the legislation to create the fund, now pending in
the Senate, is passed.

The bill calls for collecting $140 billion from asbestos
defendant companies and their insurers for the proposed trust
fund. But the Budget Committee's Democratic analysis said that
the amount of asbestos injury claims and cost to run the fund
would far exceed that amount, Conrad told reporters.