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Building Asbestos Sparks Move by 1,000

Thursday, April 30, 2015

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NEWPORT NEWS, VA—Asbestos, a legacy of decades of Navy shipbuilding, has been discovered in a building ventilation system at Newport News Shipbuilding, prompting the company to relocate about 1,000 workers.

Company spokeswoman Christie Miller said Tuesday (April 28) in an email that asbestos had been found in the ventilation system of the shipyard's Building 600.

Newport News Shipbuilding / Ricky Thompson

The sun rises over the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and USS Enterprise (CVN 65) at Newport News Shipbuilding. About 1,000 employees at the yard are being relocated because of asbestos.

Miller added that the company has "conducted multiple air samples and, while we continue to test, all results we have received have concluded that no airborne asbestos is present."

"However," she said, "to resolve the issue with the ventilation system, it must be shut down."

'Temporary Work Locations'

The employees have been "temporarily relocated" to other areas of the yard, and shuttle service is being provided for them, Miller said.

The moves began Friday (April 24), the local Daily Press reported and Miller confirmed.

NavyShipbuilding NavyShipbuilding
U.S. Navy photos via mesothelioma-navy.com

Hundreds of asbestos-containing materials were used in building Navy ships through the 1970s.

The scope of the problem is not yet known, Miller said.

Founded in 1886, Newport News Shipbuilding is the largest non-government-owned shipyard in the United States. It designs, constructs, repairs and maintains vessels for the U.S. Navy and for commercial customers.

Asbestos Legacy

Asbestos is a commercial name given to a variety of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control notes. When handled, asbestos can separate into microscopic particles and become airborne.

Occupational exposure to asbestos is a common cause of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Like other naval shipyards, Newport News used asbestos insulation and hundreds of other asbestos-containing building products through the 1970s in its shipbuilding.

Newport News Shipbuilding / Chris Oxley

James Jones removes staging on the starboard side of the bow for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) while Chadwick Alert and David Waltrip inspect welds on the port side at Newport News Shipbuilding, the largest non-government-owned shipyard in the U.S.

The shipyard has been a frequent target of asbestos and mesothelioma activists, and hundreds of former employees have filed asbestos suits against the yard over the decades.

"For decades, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine vessels were built with literally tons of asbestos," according to asbestos plaintiffs' attorneys Bluemntah &Gruber LLP.

"The toxic substance covered boilers, steam pipes, incinerators, accumulators and other heavy equipment."


Tagged categories: Asbestos; Health and safety; Insulation; Marine; Newport News Shipbuilding; Shipyards

Comment from Michael Lusich, (4/30/2015, 9:59 AM)

BIG SURPRISE.........ductwork in sensitive occupied areas as well as dorm buildings still in use from the 50's is ubiquitous.

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