In 1983, and then again in 1988, a huge fire swept through the West Midlands Ministry of Defence storage facility Donnington COD (Central Ordnance Depot), releasing billions of microscopic asbestos fibres into the atmosphere, with ash and debris from the fire spreading over a 15 square mile radius.
Years later it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had already been warned that the building presented a significant fire hazard, but that those responsible for health and safety failed to take action, claiming that the cost of taking precautions was too prohibitive – an important piece of evidence for the asbestos claim solicitors of today.
An investigation into the fire found that it had probably been caused by workers using lighters and, possibly, cigarettes to open plastic wrapping. As predicted by the warnings the MoD had received regarding fire safety, once started the fire spread incredibly rapidly, soon engulfing the warehouse facility in an unstoppable inferno, sending smoke, ash and asbestos dust high into the atmosphere. The MoD's decision to take a "calculated risk" had proved to be what it was always likely to be: a catastrophe.
Around the time of the fires, the MoD claimed that there was only a very small amount of asbestos insulating the roof of the warehouse; however, over time it has become clear to many groups, including asbestos claim solicitors, that the true extent of asbestos-containing-materials within the building was much greater and more worrying than the MoD ever let on.
Donnington COD deaths
So far there have been at least two confirmed cases of mesothelioma caused by the Donnington COD fire; a 31-year-old woman in 2014 and a 68-year-old woman in 2015.
More deaths are expected, with the incubation period for mesothelioma typically around 20 to 60 years; those exposed when children tend to develop the cancer more quickly, although this is not always the case.
During the inquest into the 2015 death of the 68-year-old woman the coroner stated that the verdict, together with that of 2014 inquest into the 31-year-old woman's death, set a "precedent which has been spread to coroners about what was released in the fire".
He added that it was likely there would be further mesothelioma deaths as a result of the fire.
Asbestosis and your legal rights
Wherever you are in the UK, we can help you with your asbestos industrial disease claim – in fact, we can do this even if you have suffered exposure to asbestos as result of fibres being released into the atmosphere in your locality rather than your workplace. We can also help you secure a settlement if you suffered exposure in the UK but now live elsewhere in the world.
If you have been diagnosed with asbestos illness or are worried about having suffered exposure to asbestos and would like some free no obligation legal advice, then please call us on 0800 508 8747. Alternatively, submit an online enquiry form and a member of our team will call you to discuss your enquiry in more detail.
Asbestos Claim Centre – specialist asbestos claim solicitors.