Union officials have accused justice officials of negligence in ensuring the safety of prison guards after asbestos was found in a Nova Scotia jail. Air testing has been carried out at the jail and results indicate that the air is safe, but union officials state that justice officials have still been negligent.

Last week guards from the Cape Breton Correctional Facility, concerned over possible exposure, walked out after some piping in the building was found to have asbestos on it. While most of the guards have now returned to work union officials stated that the government had been aware of asbestos in many facilities since the 1980s.

One union official stated: “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.” However, Justice Minister Cecil Clarke said that he had not been aware of the issue, stating: “When issues come forward we respond to those and follow the prescribed procedures and policies in place and that’s been done.”

He also stated: “Clearly we did follow the protocols . . . if in any investigation there are subsequent orders that come out from the Department of Labour, they are followed.”

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