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From GulfNews.com -

Indian ship-breakers 'disabled by asbestos'

New Delhi: Almost one in every six workers dismantling old boats at India's Alang shipyard suffers from asbestos poisoning, experts said in a report.

The experts, appointed by India's Supreme Court to look into conditions at Alang, also found a fatal accident rate six times that of the country's notoriously unsafe mining industry.

International and local environmental and labour groups have for years urged Indian authorities to sharply curtail or simply stop the work being done at the yard, where old ships are run aground in the shallows just offshore and then dismantled largely by hand.

The dangers faced by the 5,000 workers at the yard on the shores of the Gulf of Cambay in the western state of Gujarat were spotlighted in February when protests by environmental groups forced the French and Indian governments to call off plans for the decommissioned French aircraft carrier Clemenceau to be broken up at Alang.

The environmentalists said the ship was filled with up to 1,000 tonnes of asbestos, along with other toxic waste.

The expert committee, appointed by the Supreme Court during the controversy over the Clemenceau, found 16 per cent of the workers at Alang suffer from an early stage of asbestosis an irreversible lung condition that could lead to lung cancer, according to the Indian Express, which obtained a copy of the report.

"In ships brought for breaking, free asbestos is usually present as thermal insulation of boilers and floor tiles. When this asbestos is removed, its particles become airborne and attack the lungs," the report said.

It normally took more than 10 years for full-blown asbestosis to develop, but its onset is hastened with higher levels of exposure, the report said.

The Express said the report was given to the Supreme Court last week. A member of India's Ban Asbestos Network of India, Gopal Krishna, said he had seen the report and could confirm the account given in the Express.

The network earlier this year filed a petition with the Supreme Court to stop another ship, a former cruise liner known as the Blue Lady, from being broken at Alang. But the court said the dismantling of the Blue Lady, formerly the S.S. France, could go ahead.

The Gujarat Maritime Board, which oversees Alang, has told Greenpeace that 372 workers have died there since the ship-breaking industry first started being developed in 1982.

But Greenpeace and the International Federation of Human Rights say, based on worker interviews, that the number could be as high as 50 to 60 deaths a year.

Old ships are not broken up in the West because they are full of dangerous materials, including asbestos, that would not pass health standards.

That has made Asia where regulations are often lax or nonexistent a cheap alternative.


Rushie
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Paul,

Just a bit of general info to keep the readers occupied over the dark winter months.!

Interesting that the Indian Gov are now concerned...after the Blue Lady saga.

Cheers,

Rushie
 

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What that report doesn't cover is the fact that lung cancer due to asbestos fibres doesn't usually show for some thirty or more years. Having been made to sweep the tweendecks after carrying loads of raw asbestos from Africa to Indian during my apprenticeship days with Bank Line, and having had no protection gear supplied me at the time I am WAITING!!! Lefty
PS I don't wear open toed sandals, white socks or anything or am I a member of any secret organisation out to destroy civilization!
 

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It is forgivable, in the early days of the use of "new" materials and the transport of cargos which are now questionable. Man has the knack of looking at a bright new box, only to realise, too late, that it is Pandora's Box. And, in the same way, those who are at risk, only have Hope left for them.
Some nations of this world still have a cheap view of Life. The wealthier nations also have a part to play - for it is they who RELY on the unfortunate fate of those who work long hours in vile conditions to ensure the wealthy nations get their goods or services at a cheap price.
 

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The dangers of asbestos were known pre WW2. No excuses for any of the deaths since then. One word comes to mind. That's GREED. H
 

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I've served on ships where asbestos lagged pipework passed through the accommodation, on one ship in particular there was quite often a layer of 'dust' on the bunk after a bit of bad weather - but I'm still here to tell the tale.

My wife insists I have 'asbestos guts' as I drink my coffee scalding hot, she's probably right!
 

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I went down to a laid up vessel that we had asbestos insulation repairs and cleanup being carried out. The young gentleman very earnestly told me how they had sealed the insulation, vacuumed with a HEPA filter attached and then did a air quality exam.
All I could think about was sitting on a feedline behind a boiler doing repairs and covered in white asbestos dust or sweeping up asbestos dust that had vibrated out of pipe insulation.
I've had my lung x-ray and am also waiting.
 

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All of us who were engineers in the era before the sixties and seventies were exposed to asbestos dust and fibre . Whether from steam pipe insulation or packing glands .
So what !!! The company didnt know what we do now ( or think we know ) ?
Further the evidence is not conclusive in fact it is anything but !

I get really ticked off by people who try to make claims against whoever .

Most of us smoked and drank too much anyway ; and to try and get some compensation from companies long gone I find to be disgusting .

Derek
 

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The dangers of asbestos were known pre WW2. No excuses for any of the deaths since then. One word comes to mind. That's GREED. H
Perhaps, but who's greed? The workers that took the high paying jobs?
Asbestos was THE fire proof material of choice, also for some other applications like brake linings, floor tiles and such.
If its dangers were known, they were known to all.
Uncle Sam, the companies, the workers and the consumers.
Human nature is to use something until something "better" comes along. To find out that the new improved whatever is even worse...
 

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All of us who were engineers in the era before the sixties and seventies were exposed to asbestos dust and fibre . Whether from steam pipe insulation or packing glands .
So what !!! The company didnt know what we do now ( or think we know ) ?
Further the evidence is not conclusive in fact it is anything but !

I get really ticked off by people who try to make claims against whoever .

Most of us smoked and drank too much anyway ; and to try and get some compensation from companies long gone I find to be disgusting .

Derek
I have no clue why the Indian Government is getting excited about asbestos of all things now....
Its not as if they didn't have many other enviromental and safety problems in that country! By European standards anyways.
Here in the US we had that Asbestos debate in the 80's and some of it got to be rather idiotic!
For asbestos to do harm it has to be "free" yet we paid millions to have it removed from schools where it was present "inside" painted ceiling tiles for instance. Millions walked on asbestos tiles for years, to wake up one morning to find out that the floor had to be removed by "specialists" at great expense, because there "could" be a problem....
On the other hand I have seen pictures and movies of ship yards, especially during WW II, where the dust was so thick you couldn't see the other side of the room and NO ONE was wearing a mask of any kind !
IMO the risk greatly depends on how it is handled and how much and under what conditions!
For instance, watering the stuff greatly reduces its ability to fly around and get into your lungs.

As an aside, we now have lots of farmers in the US and Canada with "brown lung disease" No asbestos there....
But a big change in technology over the years with huge tractors.
So now new tractors have cab air filters on them.
In between we had lead, DDT, toxic plastics and so forth ...

Judging by the general safety record of the Indian Government I wouldn't be surprised if theu didnt see this as a way to send a huge bill to Europe for alleged asbestos damages to their 'pristine' country....
Probably got the idea from a greedy European. [=P]

And so it goes :)
 

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People can point the accusing finger for ever and a day regarding asbestos whether it be greed or whatever. The simple answer is that we in the medical world know more about it now than we did when I first branched into medicine. And we are still learning with surveys being conducted on a continuing basis.

As with everything medical, a little knowlege is dangerous. So firstly, don't panic. It is no good worrying about what you may or may not have breathed in. The most important thing now is to use what knowledge we have to prevent breathing in these harmful fibres in the future.

One survey conducted by the Health and Safety Exceutive indicated that in the UK the highest risk of asbestos related lung disease arises from inulation work, and of course breaking up ships which this thread is all about.

In my own department, the majority of patients I dealt with personally had worked in shipbuilding here on the Isle of Wight. I will not mention names, but when we had patients come in, we predicted which companies they worked for before reading their notes. And we were always right. I do not recall any patient that was diagnosed with either Asbestosis or Mesothelioma who worked on ships. I too breathed in both white and black dust on both Canberra and Arcadia. Whether it was asbestos or not is anybody's guess. I would think now, but who knows.

Basically, those who are living in a building in which asbestos has been used in construction and suitible sealed, will not result in high enough inhaled does, and will not cause asbestosis.

Asbestos can cause two types of damage. It is too complicated to explain briefly, but bacially you have Mesothelioma which is the worst type. This is caused by exposure to all kinds of asbestos dust especially blue asbestos(crocidolite)which is a cancer of the pleural lining of the lung. This desease is incurable. There is a continuing rise of new cases of Mesothelioma in the UK, but bare in mind that those who develop this had a long latency period which can manifest itself 40 years after asbestos exposure. But also bare in mind the types of asbestos you may have been exposed to for long periods e.g. blue, brown or white asbestos.

Asbestosis, is a form of pneumoconiosis but often classified separately from pneumoconiosis even though asbestos is a dust, but it is a special form of fibrous dust. It is a progressing disease causing scarring of the lung tissue as a result of microscopic fibres of asbestos. Like silicosis, asbestosis is a serious condition which again is incurable and can result in death at an early age. The term is only used for one specific disease caused by asbestos.

You may not have understood any of this be it asbestosis or mesothelioma because as I said, it is too complicated to explain briefly, but I have tried.

However, please bare in mind that there are something like 45,000 deaths from lung cancer per year in the UK. 90% are cause by tobacco smoking. And if a person is a smoker as well as having been exposed to asbestos of whatever type, the risk of developing lung cancer is greater.

Aslo Bearsie, brown lung disease as you call it is known medically as Byssinosis. It is a chronic condition involving obstruction of the small airways. It is caused by dusts from hemp, flax and cotten processing. The latest figures show more than 35,000 textile workers in the USA being disabled by byssinosis. This is a textile problem rather than working with tractors, but I suppose the two go together if working with these products driving tractors?. It is not something I personally saw so much of here in the UK. David
 

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I recall a "crossing the line" ceremony where the Second Engineer mixed up a bucket of "monkey dung" asbestos and water that engineers used to coat steam pipes etc.with. This was in the tropics and we had a swimming pool. froics led to handfuls of this asbestos paste being hurled around the pool like snow balls. I rember the water gettinging inky white. This was in the 1960's so we never heard about any danger from the stuff. I am 70 now - have I long to go?
 

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I recall a "crossing the line" ceremony where the Second Engineer mixed up a bucket of "monkey dung" asbestos and water that engineers used to coat steam pipes etc.with. This was in the tropics and we had a swimming pool. froics led to handfuls of this asbestos paste being hurled around the pool like snow balls. I rember the water gettinging inky white. This was in the 1960's so we never heard about any danger from the stuff. I am 70 now - have I long to go?
Looks like I had a lucky escape, I was tarred and feathered. Took a couple gallons of white spirit to remove it, though was very itchy for a couple of weeks (not saying which bits needed scratching) (EEK)
 

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Thanks Pompey for your very good and knowlegable presentation .
I agreed with all you say .

When one has friable asbestos ( loose airborne particles ) they have to be deal with ( simple wetting down with water spray and removal is the best way of containing the problem )

If asbetos is well sealed there is no problem . This can be done by painting or any other means of containment .

The key is to have no friable asbetos in the air we breathe.

Where I get annoyed is when workplace health and saftey inspectors of business facilities make companies remove asbetos for no reason other than they have been approched by union representitives .

I had at one of my work facilites orders to remove asbestos ( the Inspector having been contacted by the union ) even although the threshold limits of air samples were well within set limits .
This was eventualy changed to an order to reapply a sealer ( over the exsisting sealer ) and test for friable asbestos every month !!!!! Even although all readings were well below the threshold limits ( Where is the logic ???? )

When I raised the question of the Schools and Hospitals the Inspector became quite irate and objectionable .

He did however take the time to recommend a company who could to the work he had prescribed and ordered ; One wonders why !!!!!!

The cost was exorbitant ; the job poorly done but all the paperwork was processed and peace reigned with all parties happy ( Except Me who was responsible for the health and saftey of my employees ( which had not been in danger anyway ) and the bottom line ( which eventualy caued a closure of the facility as it was no longer able to sustain itself )

The Inspectors operate in this way ( In Canada anyway ) ; despite that all of the Hospitals and Schools except for the very new still have asbestos insulation .

The hospitals and schools and government buildings seem to be "Immune " but business is not ?????

How does that work ?????
Derek

I may sound bitter and twisted but that is the reality that business faces .
As an addendum the facility was reopened with the same employees and union and they all are "Happy to be working again " with no more concerns about asbestos although it is still there proprely "encapsulated " as was the case before the Issue was raised in the first place .
 

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You paint a familar picture Deryk. It is not only Canada when people involved in something reccomend a company. And it is always at high cost, and possibly not needed doing anyway?!.

I had a new department built before I retired. The person I asked to design was qualified in the workings of our department. But the people of our estates department threw his idea out, and decided to use others who had never been in my department, let alone design one. In the end, with money already wasted, my own expert was brought in to put things right. This would never happen in private business. And I predicted four years in advance who would win the contract to build my department. It is the same all over Deryk?!. David
 

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when i was an apprentice in the london docks we had to mix blue asbestos with graphite flakes to make the packing to stem the boiler face cocks. it used to get everywhere! if you gave the fitters any cheek they would rub the stuff into your hair . hell of a job to get rid of it, we were bryl cream boys in those days. i solved the problem by having my hair cut very short, they never picked on me again.
rivet
 

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I had a ship on dock having some deck steelwork done. The yard took scrappings of the coating and found <gasp> asbestos.
The really funny part of this is the same yard removed all of the asbestos from the ship at great cost a few years back.
All the safety, cough, cough, mechanism kicked in and a great deal of memos and emails flew about.
After a great deal of angst, it was discovered that is was a thread of asbestos escapulted in the sealant.(Cloud)
 
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