Published: 00:01, 13 March 2019
The family of a power station worker who allegedly died after exposure to deadly asbestos dust is appealing for help from former colleagues in their appeal for compensation.
Eric Atkins, who lived in Ramsgate and worked at the Richborough Power Station during the 1960s and 1970s as an industrial cleaner, died last September aged 90 from pneumonia caused by asbestosis.
His daughter, Barbara, is hoping to secure justice for her father, claiming he inhaled asbestos particles for several years while working at the site near Sandwich, leading to him developing lung disease in later life.
She is now making an industrial disease compensation claim and needs to hear from people who also worked at the power station during the same period who can provide information about asbestos in the power station and the work carried out by cleaners.
Barbara said: “Throughout his life he was always active and turning his hand to any job.
"He travelled all around the country in his camper van but for six years before his death his deteriorating breathing meant he couldn’t. His whole life changed.
“Up until his death at 90 he wasn’t the same man at all. It was heartbreaking to see the way he was going.
"It just wasn’t our dad. It upset him too and he’d get quite depressed because he wasn’t able to do the things he wanted to do.
"A short walk took a lot of effort and left him struggling for breath.
“We did know that he had worked in asbestos environments and most of his work mates have died from asbestos-related illnesses, but it was still a shock to learn that it caused his death.
"Nothing really prepares you for the news that if dad hadn’t been exposed to asbestos he would have lived longer and had a better quality of life.”
Mr Atkins worked at the power station for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) from 1963 to 1972 and then for Darlington’s Insulation from 1972 to 1974.
The power station opened in 1962 and closed in 1996 before its demolition in March 2012.
The family is working alongside the National Asbestos Helpline which is helping with their claim.
Edward Cooke, from the National Asbestos Helpline, says: “Asbestosis takes 10 to 50 years to develop in a person’s lungs after exposure to asbestos airborne fibres.
"After such a long time it’s not always easy to uncover all the evidence, this is why we need help from former Richborough Power Station employees and contractors.”
Mr Cooke added they hope to track down people who worked alongside Mr Atkins to confirm his exposure to asbestos, or worked in the power station doing a similar job to find out their working conditions, and where asbestos was being used.
Asbestosis is caused by breathing in high volumes of fibres which once inhaled lodge themselves in the lungs and scar the air sacs supplying oxygen to the blood.
The scarring effect leads to lungs getting smaller and harder restricting a person’s breathing with breathlessness, chest pains and coughing.