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The Freewinds: Hazardous to Your Health?

August 15, 2009

Here’s another news item culled from the recent Freedom Magazine:

“In 2008, to celebrate her 20th anniversary, the Freewinds underwent the largest refit in her history. Far more than a cosmetic upgrade, the ship was stripped from stem to stern, below the water line to the top of her stacks, covering all six decks.”

Here’s what they don’t tell you: The Freewinds, ever since its construction, has been contaminated with blue asbestos. Blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and is a major cause of mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Until the 1960s, when the Freewinds was built, blue asbestos was often used in shipbuilding, as it was not known at the time to be carcinogenic.

According to Lawrence Woodcraft, who was hired by the Church to supervise the original renovations of the ship in 1987, he discovered the blue asbestos and reported its presence to the Church at that time. The response he received was that he should carry on with the work, and leave the asbestos where it was. His reports were ignored, the Church did nothing to handle it, and the situation was covered up. After all, LRH never said that asbestos was dangerous, and we know any illness is caused by PTSness!

Fast forward to April, 2008. The Curacao Dry Dock Company discovered the blue asbestos while doing maintenance work on the Freewinds. According to reports from several Caribbean newspapers as well as the shipping news journal Lloyd’s List, the Freewinds was sealed on April 26. One Curaçao paper, La Prensa Cur, pointed out that Scientology officials had known about the contamination since at least 2001, and most likely since 1987, yet had done nothing. Google “Freewinds” and “asbestos” and you’ll find many articles about it, like here and here.

While continuing to deny that there was any blue asbestos on the ship, the Church hired Nordica Engineering to refit the ship. Nordica, in turn, hired 240 Polish workers who lived on the ship for a month and a half. When the workers reported back to Nordica that there was blue asbestos on the ship, Nordica ordered the workers to return to Poland. They have yet to be paid.

Now we are told the refit has been completed. The removal of the dangerous blue asbestos, it is rumored, was finally done by Sea Org RPF crews. After all, they won’t complain or leave or demand pay.

The Church continues to deny that there was ever asbestos contamination on the ship. But one FSSO technical executive, in an e-mail response to an OT VIII asking about it, let it slip that “the asbestos problem has been handled.” Oh, the one you said never existed?

The Church may claim there never was an air quality problem. Yeah? Then why hide the fact that there was blue asbestos on the ship? Why keep it a secret from its passengers? Why deny it ever existed?

What does this tell you about David Miscavige’s Brave New Scientology? That they don’t care, really, about the health of Freewinds public or Sea Org crew. That is more important to cover it up so people don’t stop coming to the ship. That making money is more important than really caring for people’s well being.

Is that the kind of “Church” you want to belong to?

  1. August 15, 2009 8:24 pm

    So when’s the class action lawsuit coming?

  2. August 15, 2009 8:51 pm

    Makes me glad that I never made it to the “Break Winds for OT VIII 🙂

  3. legion permalink
    August 16, 2009 2:01 am

    i noticed that this is one story that osa is refusing to touch. hardly a comment on any webstory about the subject from any scientologist. i’ve seen a number of comments from outraged ex-scis who were on that boat, though.

  4. Vlad Tepes permalink
    September 12, 2009 10:33 pm

    I hope those RPFers were wearing some serious protective gear for the asbestos abatement. I went to the ship once, and it was a very positive experience apart from the regging. I loved hearing other Scientologists bitching about their crazy reg cycles. Everyone had the same problem!

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