Dying man's bid for compensation

EDWARD Anderson is today locked in a David and Goliath crusade - battling for compensation against his former employers at the same time as fighting for his life.

EDWARD Anderson is today locked in a David and Goliath crusade - battling for compensation against his former employers at the same time as fighting for his life.

Twelve months the 64-year-old was given just nine months to live after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer.

But today, having beaten the medical odds, the 64-year-old is strong enough to fight a court battle for compensation.

Mr Anderson is claiming damages from his former employers Balfour Kilpatrick through the high court.

He worked as an electrician for the firm in the sixties at Sizewell A Nuclear Power Station.

The aggressive cancer - malignant mesothelioma - affects the tissues surrounding his abdomen.

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A writ issued in London's High Court said it was caused by breathing in deadly asbestos dust and fibres.

Mr Anderson fell ill in 2005 - almost 40 years after he left Sizewell - and was diagnosed in April last year with pleural plaques and mesothelioma.

He said: “It was a Christmas 2005 when I started getting chest infections and my doctor sent me to a chest clinic. I had an exploratory operation but we all knew before the results came back what it was.

“When I was first told it came as a complete shock, it's the last thing you think about when you have been left somewhere so many years.

“At Sizewell I had installed a copper tape earthing system from electrical motors and pumps and it was at floor level so I had to sweep the floor. Asbestos is something I wouldn't have dreamed of thinking about at the time.

“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“No doubt there at laggers who came into contact with it far more often than I did who are walking around fine.”

Mr Anderson, who lives at Thurlow Close, Saxmundham, with his wife Gillian, worked close to pipes which were being lagged by laggers, who mixed up asbestos powder with water, the court will hear.

The writ claims the company failed to ventilate the workplace properly, failed to give him protective clothing or breathing apparatus, and failed to warn him of the dangers of asbestos.

Judge Master Whitaker is now due to decide whether to take court proceedings further.

In 1997, the Star launched The Silent Killer campaign to highlight deaths related to asbestos and to fight for justice for the victims of asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Over the next 15 years, the number of deaths is expected to increase dramatically, peaking at 10,000 in 2020.

Mr Anderson said: “I think there will be lots of cases like mine in the next 20 years or so, and then gradually it will die out.

“I'm glad nowadays there's more awareness, and less asbestos is being used.

“People don't realise you just have to breathe in one fibre to be affected. I know two teachers who are ill from it after just sticking pins in their blackboards.”

A spokeswoman for Balfour Kilpatrick said: “The case of Mr Anderson is in the hands of our insurers and as it is subject to legal proceedings we are unable to comment further.”

N Have you developed asbestos-related illness? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Malignant mesothelioma is a terminal and progressive cancer, more often than not linked to exposure to asbestos at work.

Pleural plaques are the most common condition associated with asbestos exposure. They also develop many years after asbestos exposure. They are smooth, white, raised irregular areas of fibrous collagen tissue that develop around the lungs.

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