The Motorship, a website that provides insight for marine technology professionals, reports that 85% of new ships still contain asbestos. The good news is that due to tightening restrictions within the shipping industry, that number will be going down.
Asbestos is not be banned in the U.S., but it is banned in other countries. Australia and the Netherlands will no longer accept ships that are found to contain asbestos. Even if a supplier has provided a declaration stating the ship is asbestos free, upon inspection, surveyors have still been locating asbestos.
Asbestos free means different things in different countries, Australia’s threshold is zero percent, while in Europe 0.1% is considered safe, 1.0% is considered safe in America, and China has no official standard. We know that no amount of asbestos is safe, no matter how small.
The problem lies in that asbestos is still used freely in some countries, and different components for the ships come from different countries. This poses a great risk “when ships containing potentially hazardous materials need repair,” according to John Chillingworth, senior vice president of CTI Marine, the only company approved by the SOLAS Convention to perform asbestos surveys on ships.
The repercussions of finding asbestos on a certified asbestos free ship are costly. The only solution is that all ships must be surveyed by a SOLAS approved surveyor. “Both owner and yard benefit from a proper survey. […] beneficiaries are equipment suppliers, because if a survey does find asbestos it can be dealt with prior to delivery, eliminating warranty and damage claims. Perhaps the greatest benefits are to the shipyard workers who can enjoy a safer working environment.”
Given that Congress has failed to legislate a ban, if industries restrict the use of asbestos in their respective trades, it could effectively end the need for one.
Click here to read the report.