Asbestos warning for Military Engineers
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a warning to all military personnel who maintained the nations Sea King helicopters. It is likely that staff were exposed to asbestos, and therefore at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Sea King Pilots are not thought to be at risk.
A British newspaper has reported that the MoD is working to remove all asbestos-contaminated parts that are currently in use and have expressed extreme concern as the helicopters have been in use for nearly 50 years. The helicopters have been in service since 1969 and were used in conflicts such as the Falklands War and Afghanistan.
The MoD stated “Any remaining items in service Sea Kings suspected to contain asbestos are being removed urgently and we are contacting those who may have been exposed in the past, detailing the actions they should take.”
They are also working to contact any organisations that may have purchased the units, including foreign governments and civilian organisations, explaining that, “The safety of our personnel and our partners is always our highest priority. All Sea King items suspected to contain asbestos have been removed from stores.”
In the UK, about 5,000 people a year die from an asbestos related illness. The use of all asbestos was finally banned in the UK in 1999, but the legacy lives on, with many buildings and products still containing the deadly substance.
The warning from the MoD came to light after an official report into the death of an Australian serviceman was attributed to exposure to asbestos, petrol or other toxins while working on a naval base. Petty officer Greg Lukes, an Avionics Technician who maintained Sea Kings in New South Wales, died of mesothelioma four years ago when he was just 37 years old.
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