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January 19, 2018

Fears for fleet after third navy asbestos discovery

Concerns have been raised about the operational effectiveness of the Naval Service after it emerged that a third vessel has been discovered to have potentially fatal asbestos onboard.

The Irish Examiner can reveal the ageing LÉ Aoife was immobilised off the Cork coast after it was discovered that a blown engine gasket was suspected to contain asbestos.

This came after she was put to sea even though other asbestos-containing material was removed from her days before.

LÉ Aoife was anchored off Ballycotton for nearly 24 hours after the latest discovery of asbestos in its engine room and became the third vessel in the eight-ship fleet to have asbestos issues.

The LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla have been “locked down” for the last couple of weeks at the Naval Service’s base in Haulbowline, Co Cork, after asbestos was found onboard both vessels.

The Naval Service admitted last night that asbestos was found on the LÉ Aoife last week following routine maintenance and she was subsequently sent out on patrol.

A spokesman said that “concern was raised over several gaskets, lagging and other material by staff, one of these items subsequently tested positive for asbestos”.

According to PDFORRA, which represents enlisted members of the Naval Service, the LÉ Aoife, which is over 30 years old, then set sail after the removal of the asbestos.

However, PDFORRA general secretary Gerry Rooney said a gasket in one of the ship’s two engines “blew” last Monday night and she remained anchored off Ballycotton because it was also suspected that it contained asbestos. The ship went back on patrol at about 7pm last night and is expected to brought back into port shortly for a thorough asbestos check.

Mr Rooney said it was “a very worrying development” and that the navy’s “operational capabilities were diminished” as a result of the asbestos issue which, he said, was of “concern” to his members.

Mr Rooney also questioned why the Naval Service had not implem-ented a promise to train numerous personnel quickly in identifying asbestos risks on its ships.

He said it was now imperative that the navy carried out a full audit immediately of all its ships for the substance.

The Naval Service spokesman said a routine maintenance procedure on the LÉ Aoife raised concern by crew members about asbestos still being onboard.

“After the full risk assessment was completed and whilst the procedure was being carried out, a gasket which was being removed raised concerns. This gasket was sealed into a protective bag and removed from the area,” said the spokesman.

“It should be stressed that this gasket has not yet been tested so it is impossible to state if it contains asbestos. This gasket was also covered in lubricant and had not been handled or ground in such a manner that could potentially lead to the release of any harmful fibres should they prove to be present,” he said.

The spokesman said the health and welfare of its personnel remained its primary concern. “All Health and Safety Authority guidelines were followed as those issues were addressed.”

It is expected the LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla will return to service when the experts remove their asbestos “which is estimated to take a number of weeks”.

“Following the recent experiences, the Naval Service has introduced further precautionary protocols on all vessels and the level of awareness of this potential risk has also been raised to mitigate any potential risk,” said the spokesman.

Commenting on the LÉ Aoife, the spokesman said the vessel would be examined by an expert contractor when she comes back into Haulbowline, but did not stipulate exactly when that might be, primarily for security reasons.

The spokesman added that “the Naval Service is currently engaged with their personnel to further inform them on these issues and address their concerns in a proactive manner”.

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Fears for fleet after third navy asbestos discovery

Nurses air concerns over asbestos removal

Nurses at a psychiatric hospital have expressed “grave concerns” about HSE plans to remove potentially dangerous asbestos from a ward while staff and patients are still in it.

Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) members said it was “incomprehensible” that the HSE plans to remove asbestos from a hospital ward in Glanmire, Co Cork while 13 patients and staff are still in situ.

They’re also shocked that an agency tasked with safeguarding the public’s health has suggested such a move when the Naval Service has “locked down” two ships after discovering asbestos on board.

The Navy said it won’t let anybody other than members of a specialist clean-up team into the vessels to remove the material.

According to staff, an asbestos removal team was supposed to start work yesterday morning at Unit 3, St Stephen’s Hospital, but didn’t arrive after the protest was mounted.

Psychiatric nurses can’t understand why the HSE wants to do this now, rather than wait until the unit is closed on April 28 for a total overhaul.

The PNA said the protest was organised to highlight “health and safety concerns” about plans to carry out the work on the acute admissions unit for males.

Admissions will cease there on April 14, ahead of the temporary shutdown two weeks later for complete refurbishment.

Nurses claim in the interim patients could be easily moved to another unit around 50 metres away while the work is being undertaken.

The PNA said a report commissioned by the HSE South had confirmed that asbestos is present in ward’s floor, but they also believe it may be present in the walls.

PNA sources said the last time asbestos was removed from wards at the hospital all patients were transferred out of them before the work began.

They are also concerned that other parts of the hospital, which was built in the 1950s, may also be contaminated with the substance.

Fianna Fáil spokesman for health Deputy Billy Kelleher said he thought it ironic that the Naval Service had locked down two ships when the HSE proposed to carry out asbestos removal while patients and staff remained in the ward.

The TD, who lives close to the hospital, said “all patients and staff had to be removed prior to any works being carried out”.

However, the HSE said specialists had classified the asbestos as “very low risk” and they would partition off work areas and seal them to prevent any air transmission to patients and staff.

“The works will be supervised and monitored by an independent accredited specialist company, who will undertake air sampling during all phases of the works,” a HSE spokesman said.

He added that patients wouldn’t be removed during the work.

“The remedial works themselves will be completed while the unit remains operational.

“Similar works have been completed in other occupied acute in-patient settings in Cork in recent years,” the spokesman added.

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Nurses air concerns over asbestos removal

Defenseless against Asbestos on Navy Ships

CHICAGO, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Stretching from World War II until the late 1970’s, members of the U.S. military, particularly the naval branch, were among those most affected by asbestos exposure. Asbestos was widely used for insulation purposes on a number of navy ships including aircraft carriers, destroyers, and transport vessels. Asbestos was used because of its remarkable strength, its fire resistant abilities, and its capacity to withstand massive amounts of heat. Since there was an abundance of heat-producing equipment aboard, asbestos was the perfect solution to alleviate the risk of potential fires in case of a malfunction or an attack.

During World War II asbestos helped the US military manufacture ships quickly, efficiently, and at a low cost. What the government and citizens didn’t realize were the dangers and health risks connected to asbestos exposure. Asbestos manufacturing companies knew of the hazards, but withheld the information from the government and sold the asbestos-containing products anyway.

Everyone onboard was exposed to asbestos. Once asbestos is damaged in any way it’s easily breakable or ‘friable’. The tight spaces and lack of proper ventilation left all naval personnel defenseless against the millions of asbestos fibers released into the air. However, some occupations were exposed more than others including: boiler workers, pipefitters, insulators, plumbers, welders, electricians, machinists, and engineers. Asbestos was mainly used in the boiler and engine rooms. However, it was also used to insulate piping systems which were found and exposed throughout the entire ship including the galley and the sleeping quarters.

Additionally, those who were involved with repairing navy vessels in shipyards were also exposed to asbestos. These individuals were constantly exposed due to the high concentrations of asbestos fibers in damaged and war-torn ships.

Statistics show that military personnel, including shipyard workers, who served during the 1940’s to the late 1970’s are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than any other occupation. Many of the ships that contained asbestos during World War II were still in service throughout the 1970’s. Removing asbestos from discontinued vessels put workers and veterans at risk since parts of the ships were often sold or used in other military branches, which again lead to additional asbestos exposure.

Asbestos doesn’t expire. In fact, it gets worse with age. If you’re a veteran or know of any veteran’s who have been exposed to asbestos and have an asbestos related disease such as mesothelioma, legal help is available to receive compensation for your medical bills and emotional strain. Contact an attorney today to know your options.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos related disease due to exposure during your military service or on the job, you may have grounds for a legal claim. The Chicago mesothelioma lawyers of Cooney and Conway can provide you with a free consultation to discuss your case.

Sources: 
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/asbestos/index.asp 

Media Contact: Ali Hayes Cooney & Conway, 312-436-2439, mainDesk@cooneyconway.com

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Defenseless against Asbestos on Navy Ships