Why is asbestos still being used in new ships?
On 28 September 2014 CTI (Centre Testing International) an internationally accredited asbestos ship survey company, held a seminar at DNV’s Shanghai’s headquarters for 20 senior new build field surveyors, DNV flew their surveyors to the seminar from all areas of China, so they could attend this important seminar.
John Chillingworth, CTI Marines Senior Vice President, introduced CTI Marine and the subject of asbestos in new ships and gave a brief overview of how and why it is still being found in new ships and in addition he highlighted how flag states, such as AMSA and the Netherlands are tightening up their action in relation to SOLAS regulations by not accepting ships without an approved asbestos survey.
In a recent case a charterer wanted to use a ship built in 2012 with a GL asbestos free certificate based on a survey performed by a GL approved hazardous material contractor, however AMSA would not accept the survey as it was based on a non-approved AMSA survey company. CTI performed a new survey on the ship in France and found asbestos in 3 locations, the asbestos was removed for safe disposal and a certificate of compliance was issued by CTI. On another 2012 built ship, for the same charterer, asbestos was found in 14 locations, even though the ship had a shipyard declaration stating the ship was asbestos free! Another example of flag authorities improving standards is the Netherlands inspectorate who state that only marine experienced ISO 17020 companies can perform acceptable surveys on Dutch flag ships.
The DNV surveyors found the seminar very interesting.
Peng Yong, CTI’S Principal surveyor and Rick Fan, Laboratory manager then presented more detailed information on the subject. Highlighting asbestos fibres are harmful because they are small and can pass through the body’s natural filtration system, the fibres also have a hook which can be lodged inside the lung and because of its chemical composition it will not dissolve over time and can lead to a cancer forming between 15 and 30 years after exposure to asbestos. The presentation went through the statistics of over 120 ship surveys that showed asbestos is still found in over 85% of new ships. Asbestos can be found in many locations including flange gaskets, valves, machinery, deck and bulkhead insulation, pipe lagging and electric cables.
Peng Yong showing where asbestos can be found
There are several reasons why asbestos still gets into new ships:
Ø Asbestos is still being used legally in China on land new construction.
Ø The threshold of what constitutes asbestos free is different in various countries
China -No official standard
Ø The equipment and parts supply chain is multi layered and its origin is not always clear when exported outside China
The Term/Statement “Asbestos Free” is only a declaration as not subject to material batch testing.
Rick Fan goes through the asbestos sampling process at CTI’s ISO 17025 accredited Shanghai laboratories.
The seminar concluded with a question and answer session, one surveyor voiced his concerns that by accepting the shipyards declaration that a ship is asbestos free, which now has been proven to be un reliable, the surveyors may be exposing their reputation to criticism if a flag state subsequently finds asbestos on the ship.
The surveyor mentioned the commercial aspects and the difficulty of persuading the yard or the owner to pay for an asbestos survey. CTI stated that they believe the shipyards are acting in good faith but are being let down by their suppliers. They agreed that it should be discussed with the owner and shipyard to have an accredited survey performed prior to delivery, if they don’t agree then the surveyor could insist on an initial screening by taking 20 representative samples in suspected areas, if asbestos is found then the surveyor can justify having a formal detailed survey. CTI highlighted that there is a major difference between ISO 17020 companies which are accredited for survey, whilst an ISO17025 accreditation is only for laboratory procedures. CTI has both accreditations, unlike some companies that are offering survey services with only an ISO17025 accreditation.
The surveyors agreed that it was in all stakeholders’ interest to have an asbestos ship survey performed on new ships.
o Owner-Gets what he is paying for and the ship is compliant with SOLAS and all flag state requirements, which eliminates any potential problems with a charter.
o Shipyard-Reduces cost exposure with warranty costs and delivery delays and penalty clauses.
o Equipment supplier-Eliminates warranty and damage claims, if asbestos is found.
o Class society-Eliminates the embarrassment of the ships certificate being invalidated by a flag state inspector.
o Workers – Provides a safe working environment
At the end of the seminar it was agreed that all stake holders should work together in assisting the shipyard in their efforts to deliver a ship asbestos free. It would be in the owners interest to draft their build contracts that"asbestos free" is 0% and to include this example of this clause adapted from a large ship management company.
“Asbestos absence certificate to be issued by independent ISO 17020 accredited asbestos specialist. In event yard does not agree, owners have the right to employ an specialist whose result will be binding. In case Asbestos is found, yard will bear full costs incurred for the inspection and testing the whole vessel and removal and decontaminating the area/equipment and renewing the affected component.”
Some proactive companies such as Petrofac are having the large equipment surveyed for asbestos before they leave the factory.
If we all work together then ships will be delivered asbestos free!
CTI is the only company in the world with the combined approval of GL/Lloyds, Netherlands and AMSA, to perform hazardous material inventories and asbestos surveys on ships!
DNV talk SO.pdf