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Asbestos in the Horwich Loco Works

Residents of Horwich are concerned over the new developments of a housing estate and school on the site of Horwich Locomotive Works, an area believed to be contaminated with asbestos.

The Horwich Locomotive Works, now known as the Loco Works was erected in Horwich, near Bolton in Greater Manchester in 1884 and from 1886 was responsible for the construction of train engines. The site was sold in 1988 and is now an industrial estate with several of the original buildings still in use.

Recently, local residents of Horwich attended a town meeting with concerns of a development on the Horwich Loco Works site. Organised by Bolton West MP, Julie Hilling, developers were invited to present their plans for a 1700 house estate on the site, which is intended to begin construction at the end of 2015. At the heart of the issue was the potential asbestos contamination on the former industrial site.

A representative of community group, Horwich First, stated, “Everybody knows there is asbestos in the fabric of these buildings and it is worrying that they are going to take this material and mash it up. The rubble will have asbestos in it and they will be breaking it up on the site — even one particle of asbestos can cause cancer.”

Upon mention of plans for a primary school being developed on the site, residents feared “the site contained thousands and thousands of tonnes of asbestos there”, Council leader, Cliff Morris, said, “We are not going to build a school on an asbestos site, there will be tests and if it is not suitable then the plans will be changed.”

Further questions were raised of the costs to remove such colossal amounts of asbestos, with development firm, Bluemantle’s policy to bury asbestos on site.

Bluemantle chief executive, Mark Caldwell said: “The worst case scenario, if that cost was say £100 million, then the development wouldn’t go ahead and it would remain a contaminated site. The best case scenario is that there is enough money in the development for us to deal with the contamination.”

Previously, developing firm Horwich Vision said they had planned to spend £200,000 in an investigation into contamination of asbestos and cyanide in the area. But the unknown level of asbestos has now been brought to the attention of Horwich residents ahead of the new development plans.

One of the effects of exposure to asbestos dust is the lung disease, Mesothelioma. Read our explanation of the Mesothelioma Act 2014 here.

Slater and Gordon Principal Lawyer, Helen Wilson, commented, “I know from my own experience that there have been a number of employees from the Loco Works who have gone on to develop asbestos-related conditions including Mesothelioma and unfortunately others are likely to develop asbestos-related conditions in the future as a result of working at Horwich Loco Works and being exposed to asbestos through no fault of their own”

Helen Wilson is a Principal Lawyer at the Slater and Gordon offices in Manchester, specialising in cases of Chest and Asbestos Diseases.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of Asbestos Compensation Solicitors that deal with Asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in Asbestos and Industrial Disease claims with offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby, and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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