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Asbestos risk closes parts of Queen of Burnaby ferry

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. has closed the cafeteria on the Queen of Burnaby because of concerns about exposing passengers and crew to asbestos.

“The employer has taken the steps required when the potential presence of asbestos is suspected and is ensuring that staff and customers do not have access to the area in question,” said Donna Freeman, a spokesperson for WorkSafe B.C., responding by e-mail to questions from the Tyee.

“The areas of the vessel affected will remain closed, and access to the area prohibited until such time as a full assessment of the situation is conducted, and an asbestos abatement and clean up is conducted if the material is determined to be asbestos,” Freeman said.

A spokesperson for B.C. Ferries did not respond to e-mailed questions by posting time.

The company released a service notice today saying the food service will be unavailable on the Queen of Burnaby this week and will be restored as soon as possible. The notice fails to mention why the cafeteria was closed.

The Queen of Burnaby, in service on the Powell River-Comox route, was built in 1965.

Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause scarring of the lungs or certain forms of cancer, according to Health Canada.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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