Asbestos processing in Hebden Bridge
Many people are familiar with the quintessential Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge. However many people do not about know the local tragedy and which is still ongoing
Cape Insulation Limited, part of a South African based multinational company, built an asbestos processing company moved into Acre Mill, Old Town, Hebden Bridge in 1939 to meet the demands for producing filters for gas masks during the Second World War.
In 1970, the company moved to Westmorland. In the 1970s, deaths of many people who had worked at the factory began to cast doubts on the company’s safety record, and the Department of Health conducted a public enquiry into the matter.
The company dumped asbestos waste at Heptonstall, Pecket Well, and Mount Skip. Hundreds of people in the Hebden Bridge area have died from asbestos related cancers, mainly contracted from working at Acre Mill. In a recent landslide the local landfill site has been disturbed with the high risk that old asbestos dumped there over 40 years ago may have been released.
Cape and its subsidiaries had holdings in South Africa, Italy, France and Germany.
At Cape’s facilities in:
- – London
- – Hebden Bridge
- – Uxbridge
- – Manchester
- – Glasgow
- – Newcastle
- – Liverpool
- – Belfast
- – the Isle of White,
asbestos from its South African mines was turned into a wide range of products including asbestos yarn and cloth, millboard, webbing, insulation mattresses, pre-formed thermal insulation, sprayed asbestos thermal and acoustic insulation, filtration materials, asbestos cement flat sheets, corrugated sheets, pipes, molded products, slabs, packings and rope lagging.
In the old industrial heartlands around asbestos manufacturing sites like Hebden Bridge, the geography of the area has been scarred by the legacy of this fatal fibre – with 924 deaths across West Yorkshire.
Doctors estimate that up to a quarter of a million men in Western Europe will die from an asbestos-related cancer in the next 35 years.
Professor Julian Peto of the Institute of Cancer Research and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicted a European epidemic in mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos.
Deaths from the disease are expected to rise from just over 5,000 in 1998 to about 9,000 by 2018. There is no effective treatment for the illness and few people live more than three years after getting it.