Written Answers. - Naval Service Vessels.

Dan Boyle

Question:

71 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Defence the reason the crew of vessels (details supplied) had been told that these ships were asbestos free, when the most recent response he has given to a parliamentary question indicated that all vessels contained minor traces. [19302/03]

The Deputy refers to information which I supplied in response to a parliamentary question on 15 May 2003. That same information was provided by me in answers to previous parliamentary questions in late 1999 and 2000.

The position is as I outlined on 15 May 2003. In 1999, safety, health and environmental consultants surveyedLE Deirdre, LE Emer, LE Aoife and LE Aisling and identified items with an asbestos content. A licensed contractor under the supervision of the Health and Safety Authority removed this material. Air clearance certificates indicating an asbestos-free atmosphere were then issued. I would like to assure the Deputy that this matter was given top priority at that time and the issue was resolved as speedily as possible and in line with health and safety requirements.

Ships' companies of the patrol vessels were advised of 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.

Dan Boyle

Question:

72 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Defence the exchange of information which took place regarding the degree of asbestos to be found on ships (details supplied) in view of the fact that the vessels were purchased from the British Royal Navy. [19303/03]

The Naval Service had three British coastal minesweepers,LE Gráinne, LE Banba and LE Fola. These ships were built circa 1954 and were purchased from the Royal Navy in 1970-71.

With the passage of time it is not known what information was exchanged at that time over 32 years ago but it is unlikely that the degree of asbestos to be found on board was the subject of any detailed discussions between the Royal Navy and the Naval Service and Department of Defence.

I am advised that contact was established and discussions have been ongoing with consultants acting for the British Ministry of Defence but, to date, no meaningful information has been exchanged on the issue.