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Freewinds hides information about presence of asbestos

Title: Freewinds hides information about presence of asbestos
Date: Monday, 28 April 2008
Publisher: The Daily Herald (St. Maarten, N.A.)
Main source: i29.tinypic.com

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WILLEMSTAD—During refurbishing and reparatory work, which involved removing the ceiling and panelling on cruise ship Freewinds, blue asbestos was released and ended up in the ventilation system.

Freewinds captain did not report this when it's own personnel were working on the ship on the Mathey warf in Otrobanda. The Curaçao Drydock Company (CDM), where the ship was taken for reparatory work on the hull, heard from the surveyor that there may be asbestos on the ship.

The captain acknowledged the incident and said that after the incident Freewinds had some investigation done. Keeping the incident quiet became more noticeable when it turned out that the 40-year-old ship contained blue asbestos.

The question is whether or not the blue asbestos dust, which can cause cancer, can be removed from the ship.

The CDM has stopped all work on the ship. The ship was sealed and isolated and experts will investigate and measure the presence of asbestos dust in the hull and surrounding areas. Commissioners Eugene Rhuggenaath (Economic Affairs) and Humphrey Davelaar (Public Health) said on Friday.

CDM interim director Frank Esser, deputy head of the Department of Labour Affairs Christiene van der Biezen were accompanied by two inspectors and head of the health Department Tico Ras.

Samples taken from the panelling last week by inspectors that were sent to the Netherlands showed that they contained significant amounts of blue asbestos. After an extraordinary meeting, the Executive Council decided to inform the public in general about the incident to avoid rumours and panic.

The CDM personnel were also informed via the media because it was impossible to gather all the workers Friday evening to personally give them the information.