Asbestos released from 1983 warehouse fire claims second victim

COD Donnington

 

The aftermath of a fire at the largest army storage warehouse in Europe has claimed its second victim, more than 30 years after the event itself.

Paula Ann Nunn died aged 68 from mesothelioma in September. The lung disease, a form of cancer, is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, and her death has been directly linked to the fire that took place at COD Donnington in 1983.

The fire sent an excessive amount of smoke, dust and debris high into the air, with it later raining down over a 15 square mile area. Particularly affected were the gardens of the people living nearby.

The extent of the debris was so great that the first victim of mesothelioma linked to the fire, Ellen Paddock, described “seeing snowflakes falling, and playing in them”. Tragically, these “snowflakes” were deposits of asbestos released by the fire. Mrs Paddock died in 2008, aged only 31.

Before her death, Mrs Nunn contacted Asbestos Support, telling them of the ash from the fire that had collected in her garden at the time of the fire. A local coroner stated: “For two days there were no warnings that the dust was dangerous and by this time a lot had accumulated over the local area, in particular in Mrs Nunn’s back garden.” Initially, it was denied that the ash contained asbestos, and it remained in the street for almost a week before a clean-up operation began.

Although Mrs Nunn’s death was recorded as accidental by her coroner, he pledged to keep the file on COD Donnington open, as it is sadly expected that further similar cases will open in the future.

Such incidents like these are far from isolated, however. Indeed, there have been dozens of cases worldwide in which mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos, specifically in ash following fires.

Such a high incidence of the disease should simply motivate your organisation all the more to invest in asbestos air testing if asbestos has been disturbed or exposure through damaged asbestos is presumed, of the kind that we can offer here at Trident Surveying.

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