BUENOS AIRES – Officials of SBASE, the company in charge of the Buenos Aires metro system, announced on Tuesday the appointment of a panel of investigators to verify or rule out the presence of asbestos in the electrical systems of four trains purchased from Madrid Metro in 2014.
The panel will include company representatives, employee unions, environmental authorities and the municipal labor and health departments, the company said in a press release.
The measure was proposed after unions representing workers on the capital’s suburban commuter network called a 3˝-hour work stoppage Tuesday afternoon to denounce the presence of the contaminant in the structure of another fleet of railcars purchased from Spain in 2011.
The Buenos Aires city government purchased four trains, each containing six cars, three of which were allocated to the metro’s Line B for five years up until two weeks ago, when they were removed from service due to the potential health risk.
SBASE officials announced that, should the presence of asbestos be confirmed in the cars’ electrical system, the company will take legal action against the Madrid Metro operator for selling cars containing the substance, which is banned in both countries.
The metro unions currently are seeking confirmation that the railcars purchased in 2014 – which are a later, improved model – do not have the same problem.
Company representatives said that asbestos poses no risk to passengers or operators unless they handle a part containing the substance.
Despite this, the Madrid Metro said on Feb. 16 that one of its employees is suffering from asbestosis and another worker could have the same illness.