The Irish Naval Service & Asbestos

The Irish Naval Service & Asbestos
Inquiries relating to asbestos and the Irish Naval Service – Background to Asbestos in Irish Naval Ships
The ship building industry was a heavy user of asbestos particularly prior to the 1980’s. If you worked in the Irish or British Naval Services then you are in a high risk category for exposure to asbestos. Older ships, particularly navy ships, have a deserved reputation for being loaded with asbestos as it is renowned for its fire resistant qualities and was the best and most cost effective insulating material.

Many engine room seamen served aboard ships containing asbestos which werIrish Naval Servicee retro-fitted, maintained and repaired. Asbestos was used in the engine room to insulate pipes, boilers and other machinery. In many cases below deck and particularly in the engine room areas there was very poor ventilation. In addition there was little or no protection worn when asbestos fixtures were being repaired or replaced. This created a risk of the dangerous asbestos fibers becoming airborne in a confined space. These fibers are the origin of asbestos related diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

The Irish Naval Service & Asbestos
In the latter end of 1999 over half the Irish navy was forced into port over concerns relating to asbestos. The asbestos problem was identified as a consequence of a survey of the older vessels in the Irish Naval Service. A consultant’s report recommended the removal of the asbestos. The Minister of Defence, Michael Smith, maintained that only small quantities of white asbestos or chrysotile were found in the engine rooms, such as engine exhausts, heating pipes and manifold lagging. The minister emphasised that there was no asbestos detected in the accommodation areas.

The consequences of the report were that specialists asbestos removalists were engaged to safely remove the asbestos and dispose of the hazardous waste. The Le Deirdre was decommissioned in 2001 but the Emer, Aoife & Aisling still remain in service today.

We are currently investigating inquiries relating to asbestos and the Irish Navy Service. Please phone 01 87 444 22 or email us if you have a query.

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