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Friday, July 28, 2000

Asbestos not
expected to hamper
troop deployment

By Gregg K. Kakesako


The asbestos problem discovered at one of the historic living quarters at Fort Shafter should not interfere with the 25th Infantry Division's plan to deploy the unit to two mainland training facilities in October.

Capt. Cynthia Teramae, 25th Division spokeswoman, said soldiers of the division's 3rd Brigade are suppose to deploy to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana for a month.

"We don't see any problem with keeping with that schedule," Teramae said.

Last week asbestos was discovered in one of eight quads (groups of four buildings) at Schofield Barracks and 600 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade were forced to vacate their living quarters on July 14.

"Our priority now is focusing on the soldiers and returning their personal items to them," Teramae said.

"All personal items are being cleaned and returned. If an item cannot be cleaned, it will be replaced. We are now working on a claims process."

Since the soldiers haven't been able to retrieve their personal combat gear, such as backpacks, canteens and pistol belts, and their rifles, some training has been affected, Teramae acknowledged.

The Army traced the source of the asbestos in F Quad to couplers located in the joints of air conditioners. All four buildings that make up the quad have been closed.

The Army said the suspected couplers that surround the fans in the building's air-conditioning system are used as dampers to keep the system from vibrating.

Teramae said Army engineers are inspecting the air conditioning systems in the division's seven other quads to determine if the same type of couplers was used.

Lt. Col. Mike Sigmon, 25th Infantry Division surgeon, has said "the exposure risk right now is low based on a very limited exposure."

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