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June 19, 2018

Families of tragic Aston University workers win cancer payout

Aston University has
awarded compensation to the families of two former workers who died after contracting asbestos-related cancer.

Valerie White and Robert Burns both worked in the Biological Sciences department at the university in the 1960s, 70s and 80s where the pipes in the basement were lagged with the killer dust.

Asbestos insulation boards were cut up on site whilst Mr Burns, who died aged 75, was present.

The dad-of-two worked as a research laboratory technician and had relocated to Cockermouth, in Cumbria, where he died in September 2010 from Mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos.

Mrs White, a former secretary from Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield, also contracted the disease and died in October, 2009, aged just 52.

Both victims’ families launched legal action through Birmingham-based solicitors Irwin Mitchell, who secured an undisclosed payout.

Mrs White’s widower Christopher, 61, said: “Valerie’s illness came as such as shock to us and it was heart breaking to see her in pain and watch her strength slowly deteriorate at such a young age, knowing that ultimately there was no cure to the disease.

“Since Valerie died we have been determined to secure justice for her death and we are relieved that our legal team’s persistence paid off having now secured a settlement from Aston University.

“We hope that this will act as a reminder to employers to protect their workers from exposure to asbestos, so other families do not have to watch their loved ones endure so much pain and suffering.”

Jane was married to Robert for 42 years and met him when they both worked in the Biological Sciences department at Aston University. She said: “It was devastating to watch my husband go through so much pain in the final years of his life.

“The fact that he became so ill just from going to work every day is still hard to accept. I am at a complete loss since the death of my soul-mate, which has left a void in my life that has not eased with the passing of time.

“The last four years since Bob’s death have been a terrible ordeal and I am very glad that the case is now over and the university have had to pay for the suffering they caused, although no amount of money can make up for Bob’s suffering or my loss.

“Our daughters and grandchildren miss him as I do and he will never be replaced in their hearts or mine.”

An Aston University spokesman said: “We are pleased that a settlement has now been reached on these two cases, which relate to an earlier chapter in the history of the university.”

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Families of tragic Aston University workers win cancer payout

Katy Gallagher says focus needs to be on a long-term Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation solution

Katy Gallagher says focus needs to be on a long-term Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation solution

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Katy Gallagher

Dmark Giersch wears protective gear while in a cupboard of a house in Campbell to vacuum away dust and asbestos that may have leaked into the house from the roof through cracks at the top of built in robes in this 1988 file photo.

Dmark Giersch wears protective gear while in a cupboard of a house in Campbell to vacuum away dust and asbestos that may have leaked into the house from the roof through cracks at the top of built in robes in this 1988 file photo. Photo: Canberra Times

Any Canberran with a friend or relative dealing with the stress and uncertainty of owning or living in a house with Mr Fluffy loose fill asbestos will know the impact this issue is having. I have met many of these people, read their letters, heard about their financial stresses and their fears of asbestos-related disease. Had the history of this almost 50-year saga played out differently, these families would be spared the trauma they are going through and the community would be spared the large financial cost of making right this sad chapter in the ACT’s history.

Instead we find ourselves now with the need to find a solution. The ACT Cabinet has received an initial report from the Asbestos Response Taskforce which provides the first evidence based, comprehensive expert analysis of the 2014 status of the more than 1000 Mr Fluffy homes. This advice will inform negotiations currently underway with the Commonwealth. We know that the decisions that flow from this advice must deliver a fair outcome for affected families, a sustainable solution for the taxpayers of the ACT and the Commonwealth and one which ends the saga once and for all. I appreciate the frustration of those affected in having to wait for more information, but forcing this process is not an option. The history of the issue binds our two governments together and a permanent solution can only be a shared one.

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Katy Gallagher says focus needs to be on a long-term Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation solution

Asbestos to be removed from Towneley Hall

Asbestos to be removed from Towneley Hall

Lancashire Telegraph: Towneley Hall is set for changes

Towneley Hall is set for changes

ASBESTOS is to be removed from Towneley Hall while it is closed to the public next month.

A survey of the historic hall identified small amounts of asbestos left from previous removals.

That will now be cleared while the hall is closed in January, with improvements being made to the National History Gallery.

Mick Cartledge, director of community services at Burnley Council, said: “A routine management survey at Towneley ahead of the new developments on the Natural History Gallery identified some residue from previous asbestos removals.

“This is in the non-public areas of the Hall, namely the cellars and boiler room. This will be removed in the form of an environmental clean.

“This clean will be carried at the same time as the planned closure of the Hall for the major revamp the Hall’s National History Gallery. The clean will be complete for the Hall reopening to the public on February 1.”

During January Towneley staff will be working hard to install a new Natural History gallery and display, and to create a new exhibition gallery. Arts Council funding as part of the Pennine Lancashire Museum partnership, will see new family friendly displays and activity areas installed. Visitors to the hall from February will also be able to view new interpretation panels and displays.

Coun John Harbour, Burnley Council’s executive member for leisure and culture, said: “The new year is going to see some great changes made to Towneley Hall.”

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Asbestos fibers found in northern Wisconsin mine site

Asbestos mineral fibers have been found in a rock sample from Gogebic Taconite’s proposed iron ore mine site in northern Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

But the extent of the mineral, known as grunerite, at the site of the $1.5 billion proposed mine in Ashland and Iron counties is not known, the DNR said.

The presence of asbestos was confirmed by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey recently after a DNR geologist visiting the site last spring suspected the rock contained telltale fibers of the carcinogen.

Gogebic Taconite has been conducting preliminary work as part of its plans to apply for a permit to mine iron ore from a large open pit that could run for 4 miles.

Gogebic spokesman Bob Seitz said the company will conduct studies to determine the extent of asbestos in the rock. He said a mining bill passed last spring, and attacked by opponents, included language that mandated the analysis.

University of Minnesota researchers released results of a five-year study earlier this year which found taconite industry workers face an increased risk of contracting mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, and the risk increases the longer they remain on the job. Researchers also said they couldn’t say for certain if dust from iron mining and processing operations caused it.

Sen. Robert Jauch, whose district includes the proposed mine, opposes the project under the mining regulations approved by the Legislature.

The existence of asbestos “raises numerous serious scientific concerns about the geology of the area,” Jauch said.

Jauch said he was troubled that Gogebic said in a letter to the DNR in July that it didn’t believe grunerite would be found.

Seitz said the company made the comments based on information from consultants and data supplied by U.S. Steel, which conducted exploratory work decades ago.

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Asbestos fibers found in northern Wisconsin mine site

Family Members Unwittingly put at Risk From Asbestos Exposure

LONDON, March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ —

An industrial disease expert has warned how family members of workers might have been unwittingly exposed to deadly asbestos by their loved ones decades ago.

Bridget Collier, head of the Industrial Disease Claims team at Fentons Personal Injury Solicitors LLP, said the recent case of a woman in her 70s who died from mesothelioma had highlighted how asbestos dust represented a danger not just to those who worked in heavy industry, but also to their wives and children.

“Only last month a coroner recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease after a 78-year-old woman succumbed to mesothelioma,” said Bridget (left), a partner with the firm. “The court heard how the woman had breathed in asbestos fibres as she shook out the work clothes of her husband and son, who worked at a power station.

“Whilst a tragic case in itself, it has served as a stark warning that entire families might be unaware that they have been exposed to asbestos.”

Bridget, who for many years has seen first-hand the devastating effects mesothelioma has on victims and their relatives, said that although the number of mesothelioma cases reported in the UK continued to increase, there was a concern that some were still being overlooked because people simply did not realise they had been exposed to asbestos.

“Mesothelioma is a dreadful, cruel and painful disease, and kills one person every five hours in the UK,” she said. “This tragic case is just the latest where the victim was not directly exposed through her own work, but instead from washing dirty clothes and cleaning up after her family members.

“We have encountered a large number of cases like this one, where a diagnosis of mesothelioma has been met with complete surprise because the victims themselves never worked in one of the industries readily associated with the disease – such as mining, ship-building, construction, plumbing and electrical work,” she said. “However once we learn more about the history of the victim, the root of the exposure becomes clear.”

Bridget said she had heard stories of wives beating their husband’s dusty overalls as they hung on a washing line, or shaking them off in a doorway before putting them in a washing machine.

“Children and even grandchildren have also been put at risk, running up to a returning parent to give them a hug as they return from work, or sitting on their knee as they wear their dusty work clothes,” she said. “The risk of loved ones being accidentally exposed is unfortunate and just adds to the tragic legacy of asbestos. But as this latest case shows, it is something that family members need to be made aware of.”

She advised anyone who begins to suffer from symptoms – such as a cough that will not go away, or developing breathlessness when doing something that would ordinarily not have caused such a problem – to see their doctor.

“It can take between 15 and 60 years after being exposed to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent,” said Bridget. “Many people who are diagnosed often came into contact with asbestos several years ago and didn’t even realise, so it is vitally important to be vigilant now.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?


Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.

Search: Fentons Industrial Disease Claim


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Family Members Unwittingly put at Risk From Asbestos Exposure