Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 17 February, 2000

Written Answers. - Naval Service Vessels.

81. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Defence the progress, if any, made with regard to the removal of asbestos from Naval Service vessels; the medical checks or advice made available for serving or former personnel who may have been exposed to asbestos; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4536/00]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): Following a survey of the older vessels of the Naval Service fleet a quantity of asbestos was found in the machinery spaces of the four offshore patrol vessels – L E Deirdre, L E Emer, L E Aoife and L E Aisling. In December 1999, specialist firms were contracted to remove the hazardous material under the supervision of a firm of environmental consultants. The asbestos has now been removed in accordance with standards approved by the Health and Safety Authority. A “Clean Air” certificate has been issued by the consultants and the vessels have resumed fishery patrols.

Ships companies of the patrol vessels have been advised on all known health risks relating to exposure to asbestos. In addition, all Naval Service personnel are screened for asbestos related illness as part of their annual medical examination.

This matter was given top priority in my Department and I am satisfied that the issue was resolved as speedily as possible and in line with health and safety requirements.