Cleanup ordered after potentially hazardous mould detected in Canadian warshi

HALIFAX — Inadequate ventilation, poor maintenance and old equipment are being blamed for causing a buildup of potentially hazardous airborne mould aboard Canada’s most advanced warships, newly released Defence Department documents show.

However, the military officer in charge of naval engineering says most of those problems have been fixed, and he insisted the health of sailors is not being put at risk.

“We are taking the health and welfare of our sailors as our top priority,” Commodore Simon Page said in an interview Friday. “We are very responsive in addressing issues.”

The department’s Directorate of Force Health Protection says an air quality assessment aboard HMCS Winnipeg found higher-than-normal levels of mould spores in three compartments while the frigate was sailing from Tokyo to Hawaii in July 2017.

A report from March 2015 — prepared by the engineering firm Bronswerk — found the frigates’ ventilation and air conditioning systems had “significantly degraded” because of a lack of maintenance, leaving the equipment “old and unsupportable.”

The findings are important because some sailors have long complained of health problems they say could be related to mould exposure while serving aboard Canada’s 12 Halifax-class frigates. Commissioned in the early to mid-1990s, the Canadian-built warships typically carry a crew of about 200.

Airborne mould concentrations aboard Winnipeg were found to be above background levels in an air conditioning plant, the ship’s solid-waste handling plant and an equipment room near the helicopter landing pad. High levels of humidity were also recorded in all three locations.

Page, the navy’s director general of maritime equipment, said the mould problem was minor.

“We had a very small amount of mould in four compartments,” he said. “I would not qualify this as a mould problem. And three of these four compartments are not manned.”

When asked about the potential for the air conditioning system to spread mould throughout the ship, Page said there was a quick fix for that.

“For that problem, we were very aggressive with the issue,” he said, adding that all 12 ships have been modified to prevent water buildup in the air conditioning system. ”It was one of those engineering changes that was effected promptly.”

The navy first learned of mould problems in its frigates in 2011 as the ships were being prepared for a thorough modernization process that concluded in 2016, he said.

Some upgrades to the ships’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems have yet to be completed, Page said.

In all, 20 of Winnipeg’s compartments showed some accumulation of dust or mould.

While there are no standard exposure limits for airborne concentrations of mould or mould spores, the December 2017 air quality assessment says mould is hazardous for people with compromised immune systems or mould allergies.

The Royal Canadian Navy should improve the ships’ ventilation and require more frequent cleaning and inspections of ducts and filters, the report says.

Aside from airborne mould, the 2017 assessment also found mould growing on some surfaces, though the report noted that undisturbed surface mould is generally not a problem.

The report includes photos showing mould on insulated pipes inside an air conditioning system, at a duct joint in the crew’s lounge washroom, above the fan in the fruit and vegetable store, and on beams in the ceiling in the potato locker. Yeast was also found growing on a bulkhead near the wardroom.

Just Posted

WATCH: Terry Loewen named Red Deer’s Citizen of Year

Gian Carlo Estoesta named Red Deer’s Young Citizen of the Year

Red Deer councillor says addicts have accepted death as an outcome of lifestyle

Buck Buchanan says “no one wants that to happen”

Tending the fields like a pioneer near Spruce View

Weekend of horse-drawn plowing, seeding and more at Double Tree Village Museum

Red Deer County tweaks animal control bylaw

Some residents complained earlier version of animal bylaw was too restrictive

Local athletes shine on the track at CASAA Zone Track and Field Championships

Lindsay Thurber Raiders athlete Hayley Lalor was the winner in the senior girls individual aggregate

Ovechkin, Holtsby shine in Game 7, Caps beat Lightning

Capitals 4 Lightning 0 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Ovechkin scored early… Continue reading

B.C.’s Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

YELLOWKNIFE — B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is fighting to both… Continue reading

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

OTTAWA — Journalists are not an investigative arm of the police, a… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer kids learning baseball skills

Red Deer Minor Baseball Rally Cap players practice in Bower Wednesday

Lacombe receives award for contribution to recreation

City received the William Matcalfe Award for major renovations to the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex

‘Knees-together’ judge can practise law again

Former judge Robin Camp allowed to practise law again: Law Society of Alberta

Photo: Roundabout action on 67th Street

Construction season is in full force

Alberta demands all-party support for pipeline at western premiers meeting

Leaders from western Canadian provinces, territories holding a morning meeting today in Yellowknife

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month