Hinkley A-related asbestos deaths concern coroner

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A coroner has expressed concern about the number of former construction workers at a Somerset nuclear power station who have died as a result of exposure to asbestos.

West Somerset coroner Michael Rose said that in the past 14 years he had personally recorded 26 cases.

Construction of Hinkley A was started in 1957 and large quantities of asbestos were used for insulation.

Mr Rose said it was impossible to know for sure how many had died as a result.

The coroner had postponed a hearing earlier this year until Thursday to give him time to ascertain the number of deaths.

'Historic incidents'

He said at the earlier hearing: "I have been concerned for some time about the high number of mesothelioma cases arising from workers employed at Hinkley Point power stations.

"More people have died in this county in the last quarter of a century from asbestos-related diseases than any other industrial illness or accident.

"In the last 10 years alone, 91 cases of mesothelioma have been registered at Taunton and in the majority of cases I have found they originated from asbestos exposure."

Mesothelioma is caused through breathing in fibres of asbestos.

The fibres can become lodged in the lining of the lung and it can take up to 60 years for symptoms, such as breathing difficulties and pain, to develop. There is no cure.

Mr Rose said: "As I have a clear duty to prevent further deaths I therefore wish to ensure all contractors are aware of the past problems which have principally occurred during construction.

"I would again stress the cases I have investigated are all from historic incidents, do not relate to the present operator's stewardship and are in no way related to radiation."

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