‘Snow-like’ asbestos from Army base fire prompts legal action against Ministry of Defence
Asbestos removal and project management companies like ourselves here at Trident Asbestos Solutions are continually reminded of the importance of our work by the many sad stories that surface in the news about exposure to the deadly substance.
Such has continued to be the case in the early weeks of 2017, with the Mirror reporting that lawyers for three victims are suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in relation to a blaze near an Army base in 1983.
Devastating incident left asbestos fibres ‘scattered’
The inquest of 63-year-old Susan Maughan ruled that her death in 2015 was attributable to mesothelioma, a terminal cancer that is strongly associated with the inhalation of fatal asbestos fibres.
However, unlike many sufferers of the condition, the mother-of-four was never exposed to the substance as part of her job, with the coroner instead linking her disease to the fact that she lived next to the Army’s Central Ordnance Depot at Donnington, near Telford, Shropshire, at the time of the blaze.
The fire scattered asbestos-containing ash across an area of 15 square miles, necessitating cleanup work by Army teams in protective suits across nearby streets and villages.
Children ‘played’ in the dangerous ash
Lawyers for the family and two others have now said they will sue the MoD after the coroner described Mrs Maughan as having “almost certainly” been exposed to asbestos from the blaze.
Her children have even said that they “played” in the asbestos-laden ash, prompting fears that they, too, will eventually develop the deadly condition that often only produces symptoms many decades after the initial asbestos exposure.
Her 45-year-old daughter Lorraine Laketic, who was only 12 when the fire occurred, recalled: “I remember grey snowflakes falling from the sky onto our street and our garden. We all played in it thinking it was Christmas. My mother always liked tidiness, even in her garden.
“I remember watching her picking up the debris off the floor and putting it into our garden bin.”
Mrs Maughan’s GP, Dr Peter Larmour, told the hearing in March 2016 that she had visited the surgery twice, in 2011 and 2012, with breathing difficulties. The Winsford, Cheshire resident was diagnosed with mesothelioma and received three years of chemotherapy treatment, at one point needing to be treated for a collapsed lung as a consequence of the disease.
Another vital warning to today’s organisations and businesses
Such a sad story should serve as yet another urgent reminder to firms across the country of the importance of having their premises professionally surveyed for asbestos.
Trident Asbestos Solutions is one of the leading national companies who manage asbestos removal, and is ready and waiting to take your call if you have any concerns about the potential risk to those using your organisation’s buildings – whatever your sector.