The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has recently published a Marine Notice highlighting the legislation in place in Australia relating to the import of asbestos into the country by ship.
Owners, managers, operators and masters need to be aware that importing asbestos into Australia is illegal, even in small quantities, and therefore, they will need to ensure that their vessels are asbestos free. Products such as lagging, protective fire suits, helmets, gloves and aprons may well have asbestos content and, as such, constitute illegal imports under Australian law. Such items will need to be removed prior to the vessel trading to Australia.
The only exception allowed is the presence of asbestos which was fixed or installed onboard the vessel prior to 31 December 2003 in such a way that it does not constitute a risk unless it is disturbed. “In situ” asbestos must also be managed by a management plan to ensure the risk associated with the product is assessed, controlled and managed in a suitable way. If such in situ material needs to be disturbed for maintenance work whilst the vessel is in Australia then it will have to be completely removed by a certified asbestos removal company.