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Former Cumbria pipe fitter appeals to ex-colleagues for information following terminal cancer diagnosis

Alec Evans

A terminally ill former pipe fitter is appealing to his ex-colleagues for information after being diagnosed with a terminal, asbestos related cancer.

Alec Evans, 79, was given the devastating Mesothelioma diagnosis in October 2018, after seeking medical help from his GP having suffered from a shortness of breath and a cough.

After a chest X-ray revealed fluid on his lungs, he was sent to have a drain inserted, and the fluid that was removed was tested, and confirmed Mesothelioma.

Currently living at home with his wife in Paignton, Devon, Mr Evans has been instructed by asbestos-related disease lawyers at Simpson Millar to investigate his employment history, amidst concerns that he was exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres whilst working at Vickers Shipbuilding (now known as BAE Systems) and Mitchell Engineering in Cumbria.

Mr Evans and his family moved to Cumbria in 1958, and between 1958 and 1962 he was an apprentice plumber at the Vickers Armstrong Shipyard.

He worked mainly on a liner called ‘Oriana’, fabricating and installing new pipework on the ship. Mr Evans said that they often used asbestos spray extensively around the ship to make it fire retardant, and that it was a very dusty environment as the spray created a huge fog of dust.

He commented: “The air was often thick with asbestos dust clouds. It was all around me, in my hair, on my clothing, on the floor.”

From 1962 to 1964, Mr Evans also worked for Mitchell Engineering at Windscale, which is now part of the Sellafield Nuclear Site.

In his role installing pipework at the plant, he would often work alongside Laggers, who would use large sectional asbestos lagging on the pipes.

“I was exposed to the dust when the Laggers were cutting and installing the lagging, which they would do in the area I was working in, just a few feet away from me” Mr Evans said.

He continued: “The cutting of the sectional asbestos created an awful lot of fine dust in the workspace and air. It would then settle on the pipes and floor, only to be disturbed as we worked.

“The whole of that plant was very dusty from the white asbestos – the dust was visible in the air.”

Mr Evans said he was never provided with any training about the dangers of the asbestos, and he wasn’t provided with any respiratory protection to protect him, or others, from breathing in the dust.

He added: “I was having fluid drained from my lung three times per week by a District Nurse who came to my house.

“I tried Chemotherapy and had two cycles to try and slow the progress of the disease down, but unfortunately these have not worked, and I have been advised that I will just receive palliative care now.

“I am worried for my wife as I know my condition is terminal, and I worry about how she will cope when I am no longer here. We want answers as to why I was never warned of the dangers, and why I was never protected from asbestos exposure.”

Simpson Millar is now appealing on behalf of Mr Evans for anyone else who worked for Vickers Shipbuilding or Mitchell Engineering, in the 1950s-1970s, to come forward with any information they may have in relation to the conditions.

Anthony Waddington from the firm said: “This is a devastating diagnosis for Mr Evans. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, and we are now working hard to try to gather as much information as possible to ensure that he receives the answers he rightly deserves with regards how and when he was exposed to asbestos, as well as why more was not done to protect him from its harmful consequences.”

If anyone has any information regarding the conditions of Vickers Shipbuilding or Mitchell Engineering between the 1950s and 1970s, then please do come forward and contact Antony Waddington of Simpson Millar on 0345 3579 338.

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