Scores of local families are to sue owners of former steelworks Ravenscraig for safety lapses said to have cost workers their lives.
Advertisements placed in the Times & Speaker by Watford-based legal firm Collins have already sparked around 100 enquiries from local people who lost parents or other close relations to cancer and emphysema - it’s claimed through working for years in unsafe conditions.
Many more, including survivors living with cancer, are expected to come forward as news of the collective lawsuit spreads.
Workers at the plant, which closed in 1992, came from all over the west of Scotland, but a significant proportion were from North Lanarkshire, including Motherwell and Bellshill.
Lawyer Des Collins, pursuing claims for steelworkers who worked in both Ravenscraig and Corby, Northants, said: “It has recently come to light that for years the industry knew it was exposing steelworkers to air pollution .
“Little was done to educate workers and protect them from inhaling dangerous substances.”
His firm is working with the families of those who are said to have died through exposure to chemicals and other pollutants, including poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can cause cells to turn cancerous.
One Motherwel woman, Jeanie Brown, whose father Bobby Grier died of lung cancer in 2010, said: “I remember seeing him coming home covered in waste from the plant.
“Close to where I stay we know of several other people who later died.
“And while it is difficult to prove one person died from being exposed, the way my dad and uncle were, when you have a lot of people affected who all worked there around the same time, you have to ask the question.”
Jeanie also worked in Ravenscraig for a time, but as a cleaner working across numerous departments - where, unlike her dad and other working in heavy industrial areas without protection, she wore a face mask at all times.
However she says most workers had little or no protection, and that health and safety was never mentioned.
Jeanie added: “Dad worked there for 22 years, and we have never known for sure whether it could have been the cause of the cancer that took him from us. My mum, Margaret, and three sisters - the whole family - were devastated.
“My uncle John also worked in the coking works (now reckoned to have been particularly unsafe), and he also died of lung cancer, several years earlier.
“When dad died we were given no support of any kind whatsoever - and many others must have been the same.
She added: “Now we are all hoping this investigation might finally bring some kind of closure.”
Collins Solicitors’ partner Danielle Holliday said the ‘Craig’s former private owners, the UK Government and British Steel could all be hit by lawsuits for workers who suffered as a result of health and safety neglect.
The firm - successful in comparable cases - says recent changes in the law make it practical to pursue Ravenscraig cases now.