Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Submarine Fire Trap and Journalistic Deficiency

UPDATE #2: (Notice the date?) - May 20, 2005 - CBCNEWS.ca -Navy knew HMCS Chicoutimi had toxic material - Military officials had expressed concerns for years over one of the toxic materials onboard HMCS Chicoutimi – a substance inhaled by submariners during last fall's fatal electrical fire. Peridite was among the materials that melted in the fire that killed Lieutenant Chris Saunders and caused eight others to suffer smoke inhalation.
UPDATE: (Now we may be getting somewhere) -Mar. 11 2008 The Canadian Press, OTTAWA - Minister orders review of Chicoutimi crew treatment- One of the issues Veterans Affairs wants to examine is whether the crew was exposed to potentially cancer-causing Peridite. The noxious insulation adhesive is found throughout all four used British submarines that Canada bought. Some former crew members are worried it may be responsible for a myriad of illnesses. The waterproof epoxy is one of two substances used to glue fibreglass insulation to the bulkheads and decks of each Victoria-class submarine

Mar 11, 2008 - Debilitating symptoms forced some from navy -
Almost half the 56 men who battled to save their sub from the fire in stormy seas off Ireland in October 2004 have been discharged, will soon leave the military, or are on the medically disabled list. ...Some have developed severe breathing difficulties, preventing them from climbing a flight of stairs. Some have had fainting spells and short-term memory loss. Others have developed chronic conditions, such as asthma. There are also neurological disorders.

What is wrong with this Canadian submarine story? For starters, this:

Researchers, who only recently analyzed the noxious substances in the smoke that crew inhaled during the electrical fire, have yet to determine the impact on long-term health.

What's wrong then? Plenty. Bear with me for a short history lesson you may find rather enlightening. If you are reading this you may already appreciate ARPA. The ARPANET, developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense, was the world's first operational packet switching network, and the predecessor of the global Internet. Knew that already, did you?

Did you already know this, too? Operation Hideout had just been conducted in 1957, aboard the submerged diesel submarine USS Haddock. Twenty-two bubbleheads and a medical officer were confined for 60 days in Haddock. The lot were exposed to atmospheric variations. Tolerance limitations for carbon dioxide were scientifically determined and as other valuable data was compiled. Less than one year later, ARPA held the first Sympoium on Submarine and Space Medicine. According to Wallace O. Fenn, Honorary Chairman, School of Medicine and Dentistry, The University of Rochester, in may, 1959, the symposium might have been called Death in Closed Vessels.

Among other scientific knowledge, the symposium presented Acute and Chronic Environmental: Stress Conditions on Endocrine and Metabolic Functions; Changes on Circulation; Changes on Respiratory Mechanisms; and Toxilogical Problems in Confined Spaces.

By 2002, the U.S. Navy Health Research Center's Toxicology detachment had proposed two exposure levels, termed submarine escape action level (SEAL) 1 and 2. Collisions or explosions often create on-board fires that potentially expose crew members to toxic concentrations of 7 combustion gases. Deadly chlorine gas, can also bee produced if sea water contacts submarine batteries. In noncombat circumstances alone, there had been 102 known instances of disabled subs sinking resulting in the loss of about 2,600 previously healthy men.

As would be expected, the U.S. and U.K. navies share submarine toxicological data for materials permitted on submarines, and have for some time. They are also careful about which materials may be used inside submarines.

Since 1986, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has required MSDS data be available to employees for potentially harmful substances handled in workplaces coming under the Hazard Communication regulation. In the U.K., the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 - known as CHIP Regulations - impose duties upon suppliers, and importers into the EU, of hazardous materials. In Canada, the program known as the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) establishes the requirements for MSDSs in workplaces and is administered federally by Health Canada under the Hazardous Products Act, Part II and the Controlled Products Regulations. Material toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, etc, are known and controllable.

The Chicoutimi lapse is due to much more than Canadian researchers 'who have yet to determine the impact of noxious substances in smoke the crew inhaled'. The submarine was launched by the U.K. in 1986, and sold to Canada some 12 years later. The U.K. knew all of the materials used in Chicoutimi's construction, and Canada's Navy knew what had been removed and added since.

Someone should either know exactly what caused the crew's breathing difficulties and neurological disorders, or narrowed the search down to a handful of suspect materials. How about the insulation on those bus cables? Just a thought.



At 11 November, 2011 06:36, Blogger Unknown said...

OSHA has been really good in terms of training people for their own health and safety. Other safety courses such as hazwoper, whmis online course, tdg training and more are other examples of education that will teach the workers to work efficiently and safety.


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