Asbestos present in army tanks and vehicles
The Ministry of Defence has admitted that hundreds of British Army tanks and armoured vehicles could contain asbestos.
Ministers confirmed Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and Bulldog armoured personnel carriers, all of which are still in use, have asbestos containing materials.
In total, 2,699 pieces of equipment owned by the army contain ACMs. These include: 765 Bulldog armoured personnel carriers, 324 Challenger 2 tanks, 75 Challenger armoured repair and recovery vehicles, 11 Fuchs armoured vehicles, 14 Gazelle reconnaissance helicopters, 31 high mobility trailers, 841 Pinzgauer 4x4s, 64 Stormer armoured vehicles, 540 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and 34 Wildcat helicopters.
The figures represent the entire MoD inventory of kit containing asbestos, with the numbers in actual frontline service much lower. They were confirmed in a letter to Labour from James Cartlidge, the defence procurement minister.
Said Hilary Meredith-Beckham, Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester:
“The law was changed in 1987 - with Labour’s Jack Straw instrumental in this important piece of legislation - to provide military personnel exposed to asbestos in the dockyards with the same legal rights as civilians working alongside them.
“To discover that other military equipment may have exposed our armed forces to asbestos is truly shocking. Just how long has the MoD known about this?
“Asbestos is dangerous if disturbed or leaking - which in military vehicles in combat is a high probability.
“Anyone who inhales asbestos fibres is at risk of getting an asbestos disease. The more frequently they suffer exposure to asbestos and the more significant the amounts of asbestos dust they inhale, the higher is someone’s risk of getting an asbestos-related illness.”
Symptoms of asbestosis - a severe scarring of the lungs, or mesothelioma, a cancer - can occur years after exposure to asbestos.
Service personnel and veterans who may have been exposed to asbestos should contact Hilary Meredith Solicitors for further advice.