January 21, 2019

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

State Senate passes asbestos labeling – Fri, 15 Mar 2013 PST

Asbestos at home

Asbestos has been used by some manufacturers in common home-construction products. It might be listed as “mineral fibers” or chrysotile, a type of white asbestos. Or it might not be listed at all.

OLYMPIA – People buying supplies for a home remodeling project might not realize that they have asbestos in them. The state Senate says the product should say so right on the label.

A proposal to require such labeling, sponsored by a Spokane senator, passed on a 47-2 vote this week. If the House agrees, labels on everything from wallboard to shingles to floor tiles to caulk would have to say if there’s asbestos inside.

The idea for that bill came from the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency staff, which inspects demolition sites to make sure asbestos isn’t getting into the air, among other reasons.

“This has been an issue for a while,” said Bill Dameworth, agency director. It’s not usually a problem when wallboard goes up or shingles go on, but it can be a problem when they are torn out and release asbestos into the air.

That’s a known problem for buildings constructed through the latter half of the last century. It’s not as well known for newer buildings or remodeled structures, Dameworth said. “It’s kind of hard to find a building that you’re going to demolish that doesn’t have a lot of asbestos in it.”

Asbestos was banned from 1989 to 1991 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but since that time has been used by some manufacturers in common home-construction products. It might be listed as “mineral fibers” or chrysotile, a type of white asbestos. Or it might not be listed at all.

The agency’s board of directors at one point thought about banning such products in Spokane County, but after study, they decided it made more sense to require labeling so consumers would know what they were buying and make their own choices.

Dameworth contacted Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, with the idea for such a law. A bill was drafted and received a hearing in the Senate Energy Committee, which heard testimony from Dameworth and others and was sent to the Senate floor.

It’s an example of legislation following the route described in basic civics classes, Billig said.

In reality that’s the exception rather than the rule in Olympia, where bills are often suggested by powerful interest groups and are worked and reworked for political advantage as they move through the committee and onto the floor.

Billig admitted to colleagues he was surprised it was even possible to buy building materials with asbestos. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said the committee checked with such retail outlets as Home Depot and Lowe’s, who didn’t consider the labels a burden. “We’re not going down the scare route,” Ericksen added.

In minutes, Democrats and all but two Republicans in the Senate said yes, and it was among dozens of bills sent to the House on Wednesday.

Dameworth said he thinks consumers would be glad to know what’s in their products. If there’s a negative reaction to products containing asbestos, smart manufacturers will start marketing products without it, he said.

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State Senate passes asbestos labeling – Fri, 15 Mar 2013 PST