Marine Atlantic Asbestos Claims

August 18, 2008, 8:12 AM EST

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CAW members who work on a Marine Atlantic ferry who have tested positive for asbestos will have workers' compensation claims fast-tracked if they become sick due to the exposure.

Employees who have worked on the MV Atlantic Freighter will be able to open a claim immediately upon discovering they have signs of asbestos exposure, said Sue Irvine, President of CAW Local 4285. They won't be compensated unless they become ill. But Irvine says it's a relief that any scrutiny of the filed claim will be lifted creating a fast-track of the claims procedure.

Asbestos was re-discovered in some areas of the 30-year-old ferry in the fall of 2007. Most of the affected workers are based in Newfoundland, but about 40 work in the Marine Atlantic maintenance shop in North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Asbestos fibres, once inhaled, can cause serious long term health problems such as lung cancer and asbestosis.

The shipbuilding industry has not used asbestos (a fire retardant material) in the manufacture of vessels since 1980. The MV Atlantic Freighter was built by the Hyundai Shipbuilding Company in 1978.

CAW Local 4285 represents 600 members on vessels at Marine Atlantic including unlicensed deck, engine room and steward department personnel and 80 members onshore, who are mainly skilled tradespeople.

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