Canadian Ferry Workers to Be Tested for Asbestos

According to an article in the Cape Breton Post, the Crown Corporation, which operates the ferries that link Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, has agreed to test more than 600 of its employees for exposure to asbestos.

The announcement of the testing comes on the heels of the discovery of asbestos aboard the MV Atlantic Freighter. Sue Irvine, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 4285, says crew members were unaware of the problem until after warning stickers were recently posted on the ship. She says Crown Corporation has also agreed to offer tests to hundreds of former employees.

Workers say they were “startled” to find the warnings posted around the ship last month. They had believed that the dangerous material was removed or enclosed in the 1990s, but a September inspection of the ship found that some of the sealed areas had been damaged through normal wear and tear.

In addition to the medical testing, Marine Atlantic spokeswoman Tara Laing said that individuals who worked onboard in the past will also receive questionnaires in order to help gather information about past exposure.

Marine Atlantic, a union representative noted, has informed Workers Compensation officials of the problem so, if a current or former member of the crew develops an asbestos-related illness, they won’t need to go through a lengthy process of proving exposure.

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