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by Daily Commercial News last update:Jul 28, 2006

NATO won’t move out of its Brussels headquarters despite the recent discovery of cancer-causing asbestos in parts of the sprawling 1960s building, the alliance said last week.

BRUSSELS, Belgium

NATO won’t move out of its Brussels headquarters despite the recent discovery of cancer-causing asbestos in parts of the sprawling 1960s building, the alliance said last week.

However, NATO faces a major security headache as private contractors are called in to carry out a thorough search of its secretive nerve centre to uncover the extent of the contamination.

“Every inch of this building is going to be checked,’’ said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.

He told reporters that areas where asbestos had been detected were isolated to minimize the health risk to the 3,300 diplomats, military and civilian staff members working in the building.

“All work in the areas where we know of or suspect the presence of asbestos has been halted,’’ Appathurai said. “The necessary precautions have been taken.’’

He stressed there have been no recorded cases of asbestos-related illness at the building which NATO has occupied since the late 1960s. NATO moved to Brussels after it was forced out of Paris by then-French president Charles de Gaulle.

Discovery of asbestos at the European Union’s headquarters in 1991 forced the relocation of staff to various sites around Brussels for 13 years while the building was cleansed and renovated. It reopened in October.

The Associated Press

last update:Jul 28, 2006

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