Nova Scotia Knew about Asbestos in Prison for 20 Years

by John McKiggan

I posted yesterday about the concerns of guards and inmates over asbestos found in the Cape Breton Correctional Facility.

When the announcement was made this week about the presence of asbestos in the jail, Justice Minister Cecil Clarke said all proper procedures had been followed.

“When issues come forward we respond to those and follow the prescribed procedures and policies in place and that’s been done,” said Clarke.

But yesterday afternoon the union that represents the guards released a document which indicates the government had been aware of asbestos insulation in some provincial institutions as early as 1988!

“It clearly stated that there was asbestos within the heating system of the correctional facility, particularly around the elbows and joints, which are the areas of concern at present day,” said union local president Jim Gosse.

The province’s code of practice on “Managing Asbestos in Buildings” requires that employees be notified immediately once asbestos is detected in a building.

The Canadian Press has reported that the guards’ union maintains that it wasn’t informed about the asbestos until it requested a meeting with jail officials on May 14. The meeting was held the next day.

The province knew about the asbestos in the Cape Breton Correctional Facility in 1988. The province’s code of practice requires that employees be notified immediately about the presence of asbestos. The guards were not notified until May 14, 2008. Twenty years later!

What were they waiting for?

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