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New naval health problems demand investigation.

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Hon Arch Bevis MP Federal Member for Brisbane Shadow Minister for Defence Planning, Procurement and Personnel Assisting the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations

24th January, 2005


Shadow Minister for Defence Personnel, Arch Bevis, has called for a full and open investigation following reports that Australian military personnel have been exposed to a potentially deadly heavy metal while servicing Navy vessels.

Mr Bevis said: “Defence personnel conducting routine service should not be placed in life- threatening situations.”

Reports indicate that, from the 1950s to 1985, naval personnel used cleaning equipment containing beryllium to remove paint and rust from ships. Beryllium dust can cause untreatable and sometimes fatal lung disease.

Beryllium, also used in the mining industry, has been the cause of worker health problems, with compensation payments in the U.S.A.

Mr Bevis said: “We’ve recently seen problems associated with the work carried out on the fuel tanks of F-111 aircraft.”

“Defence should conduct a full and open inquiry as was conducted with the F-111 Deseal/Reseal programmes.”

“I call on the Minister to give a guarantee that an investigation into those concerns will be comprehensive and transparent,” Mr Bevis said.

Further information: Rodney Kendall 0419 731 490