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Welsh steel and coal workers seek compensation

The Phurnacite smokeless fuel plant in the Cynon Valley. Credit: ITV Wales

More than 300 former coke oven workers are taking legal action against British Steel and British Coal in a battle for justice for cancers and respiratory diseases they are now suffering due to exposure to harmful dust and fumes decades ago.

A landmark judgment against a Phurnacite plant in south Wales in the High Court last year paved the way for legal action in areas particularly badly affected including Porth, Coed Ely, Newport, Caerphilly, Shotton and Port Talbot as well as the North of England.

Law firms Hugh James and Irwin Mitchell confirmed they had jointly issued a letter of claim against British Coal and British Steel on behalf of workers who became ill after working at coking plants and steel works.

The majority worked between the 1940s and 1980s and suffered with various respiratory illnesses, including lung cancers, emphysema, COPD, chronic bronchitis and asthma. Many have now since died.

Kathryn Singh, of Hugh James, said, “Sadly this is yet another instance where workers are left paying the price of their employers not protecting their health and safety decades ago."

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Pair found guilty of farmer murder

Two men who battered a widowed farmer to death in his own home have been found guilty of murder.

Llywelyn Thomas, 76, was found dead in his home in Cambridgeshire on December 18 after neighbours became concerned that the lights had been left on all night.

Gary Smith, 21, of Fen Road travellers' site, Chesterton,and his nephew, Frankie Parker, 26, of Nene Road, Ely, had both denied murdering Mr Thomas as they burgled the property in Ely Road, Chittering, the previous night.

But today a jury at Cambridge Crown Court found both men guilty of murder after less than two hours of deliberations.

They will be sentenced tomorrow.

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Workmen taken to hospital with burns

Police were called to an incident in Chester Road West in Shotton this afternoon.

The fire service and ambulance also attended. Two workmen were taken to hospital suffering from burns, no one else was injured.

The main road was closed and traffic diverted while Scottish Power carried out safety checks and made the area safe.

The Health and Safety Executive have been informed.

A spokesperson from Flintshire Council said the road closure was due to be removed at 18:30 on Thursday evening but added that a temporary traffic control would be in use for a short while afterwards.

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Shotton plant to close putting 32 jobs at risk

A union has said it will do all it can to help 32 workers at a power plant in Flintshire which will close this year. International Power said competition from more efficient plants was behind its decision to close the plant.

"Due to the commissioning of a number of highly efficient gas-fired power stations in the UK and the relatively low efficiency of Shotton CHP, this plant is no longer competitive in the UK wholesale electricity market," said a spokesperson for Shotton.

"We would like to recognise the hard work, dedication and expertise of our staff at Shotton and we will be entering into a consultation process to mitigate the impact on employees.

"We will seek to identify redeployment opportunities within the group wherever possible."

The Shotton plant will remain fully available until plans for closure have been finalised.

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