One of Greece’s newest state hospitals contains large quantities of asbestos and will have to be refurbished next year at a cost of over 4 million euros to make it safe for staff and patients, the health minister told Parliament yesterday. Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said asbestos slabs were used in the construction of Thriasio Hospital, which was built in 1996. The minister added that they would all be removed in 2005 and taken out of the country to be buried at special sites. The inhalation of asbestos particles can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that may take as many as 40 years to develop. The hospital, located near Elefsina, west of Athens, will be refurbished at a cost of some 4.4 million euros, Kaklamanis said, adding that the bill would be covered by next year’s receipts from a new tax on tobacco. The Thriasio is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment but the hospital has suffered various problems since being built. In June, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited the cardiology unit only to find it closed due to a lack of nurses.