Waiting for the silent killer

FORMER power station worker Harry Horsley today faces the worst wait of his life – for the news that he could soon be dead.At some point every day he faces the fact that he may contracted a deadly asbestos-related disease.

FORMER power station worker Harry Horsley today faces the worst wait of his life – for the news that he could soon be dead.

At some point every day he faces the fact that he may contracted a deadly asbestos-related disease.

Mr Horsley, 69, worked at the Cliff Quay power station for 30 years, surrounded by the lethal building material.

In recent years he has watched many of his friends and former colleagues suffer from asbestos-related illnesses.


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In 1998 a CT scan showed flecks of asbestos in his lungs and he believes he could be next.

He said: "It never leaves my mind. I'm not usually the sort of person to panic or worry but when I've seen a lot of my mates suffer from it, it's on my mind all the time.

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"It's like a cloud hanging over me.

"The worst thing is that we should not need to be suffering like this."

Every day, more and more people die from a cancer brought on by exposure to asbestos many years ago and their families are left devastated by a disease that destroys these once healthy and happy people.

The number of asbestos related deaths has risen to 3,500 a year and is forecast to increase to 10,000 by the year 2020. Hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos currently in buildings still needs to be removed

The Evening Star's Silent Killer Campaign has worked to highlight the tragedy of these deaths since 1997.

Mr Horsley, of Whinchat Close, Ipswich, worked as a mechanical fitter in the power station from 1960 until its closure in 1984. He continued to work there as a security guard until 1990.

He said: "I would work more or less up to my neck in the stuff.

"It used to blow about and you could not see your hand in front of your face.

"There's no rhyme or reason to how it affects people.

"Many of my friends that have died did not work anywhere near as close to the stuff as I did.

"I often wonder how the hell I'm still here."

Aware of the dangers of the substance he went for annual chest x-rays and when one of these picked up abnormalities in 1998 he was referred for a CT scan, which revealed the asbestos in his lungs.

He immediately contacted his union and decided to take legal action against National Power, the owners of the station.

The case went to court in 1999 and National Power were forced to pay Mr Horsley compensation after being found guilty of a number of counts of failing to protect their workers, including failure to inform workers of the dangers of the substance and failure to provide proper safety equipment.

He said: "They pushed us to do the work with no regards to our safety."

If Mr Horsley's condition deteriorates he will be able to take the case back to court and receive more compensation.

He said: "I did not do it for money. I was not interested in finance, I did it for justice."

Helen Bucky from the occupational and environmental diseases association in East Anglia said: "The statistics are coming up and it is going to get worse. The figures are very alarming. Many people who started apprenticeships in the 50s and 60s worked with asbestos.

"After diagnosis you have about two years to live, they treat some of it and it prolongs life for a while but you go through an awful lot.

"It is as big a problem in East Anglia as it is anywhere and a lot of it comes from the building trade and painting and decorating. It was even in car brakes so mechanics got it as well.

"These cases won't stop for about 20 years."

The Evening Star will continue it's Silent Killer campaign to ensure these needless deaths do not go unnoticed.

Have you been affected? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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