We already know that ships built between 1930-1970 contained asbestos within their components. At the beginning of the 70s, a program was launched by the US Navy which was called the Asbestos Medical Surveillance Program (AMSP). This had the main purpose of monitoring the people that worked in the US Navy and helping those who experience medical problems. This action was meant to decrease the mortality among the US veterans due to mesothelioma following the asbestos exposure. Even so, this hazardous mineral is present even nowadays in our lives. How can this be possible if constructors haven't used it for more than 30 years? We can answer to this question by answering to another one, as interesting as this.
What happens with the decommissioned vessels after they are no longer useful to the US Navy? According to a simple research, they are cut for scrap, sunk as a target during training exercises, used as museum ships, used for research and tests or sold to other countries where they can be placed in service again.
Even if no one works on those ships, the danger is still present. Whenever a ship is scrapped, the people breaking it still inhale the contaminated air. Whenever a ship is put in a museum, people who visit it are still exposed to asbestos, and so on. For instance, let's take the example of B.C. Ferries who encourage the selling of old, decommissioned ships even though they are aware of the danger of exposure and they even stated it within their annual report: "some vessels contain undetermined amounts of asbestos". This way, the responsibility of asbestos remediation will be transferred to the new owner.
After Kathleen Ruff, an important militant against asbestos exposure, wrote to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure about this danger in 2008, the company established a committee in order to remove everything that contained asbestos in their ships and ferries. A lot of vessels that used to belong to the US Navy are now modified so that they transport people in other countries like Canada, Spain, Italy or even China. As far as we know, Canada is the only country that fights against the consequences of exposure by abating asbestos from the structure of ships.
Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos in a Shipyard?
If you are a veteran and have worked in the US Navy, you might have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. Our website is designed to help veterans and all individuals see if their ship or shipyard posed a threat to them. Call us at 760-621-6147 for assistance!