A judgment handed down at the High Court has ruled that working at the former Phurnacite plant at Abercwmboi, South Wales, can cause diseases of the lung, including lung cancer.
The ruling was made by The Honourable Mrs Justice Swift DBE following a six week trial that began in Cardiff in October 2011 and ended at The Royal Courts of Justice in London.
The Court ruled that lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) could be caused by exposure to dust and chemicals at the former coke works in the Cynon Valley.
Compensation averaging £44,000 each has now been agreed for four of the successful claimants.
Claimants, who were represented by Hugh James solicitors, had put forward claims for COPD, lung cancer, skin cancer and bladder cancer.
Representing the claimants, Kathryn Singh, Partner at Hugh James, said: “Cancer cases are always emotive but, sadly, difficult to prove to the standard required by law. This is largely due to cancer being a disease of the general population, and proving that it has been caused by specific circumstances, such as working conditions, is extremely difficult.”
The Court found that there was convincing evidence that diseases of the lung, namely COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer could be caused by the processes at the plant. However, there was insufficient evidence for the Court to find that, on a balance of probabilities, bladder cancer and certain types of skin cancers were caused by these processes.
Bleddyn Hancock of the deputies’ Union NACODS, who contributed to the cost of the case, said: “The people of the Aberdare valley have long known that the filth of the Phurnacite plant damaged health. This is the seventh and only successful attempt to hold British Coal who owned the plant to account.”
“Now many men and their families will be compensated for the devastating effects of respiratory disease and lung cancer.”
183 claimants have registered as part of the legal action, with a total of 234 claims due to some claimants experiencing multiple conditions. The judgment given at the High Court will now be applied to the other claims in the group.