Widow needs help from West Yorkshire’s former Ferrybridge Power Stations workers

Posted: 20th Jul 20 10:58 AM

Following the death of her husband from a cruel asbestos-related lung disease, a widow is appealing to anyone with memories of working at the Ferrybridge Power Stations.

Rita Ryan’s husband, Kenneth died last year on August 31 aged 72. A post mortem carried out on the instruction of the HM Coroner for Hull and East Riding found that the cause of Mr Ryan’s death was pleural fibrosis, a severe lung disease that can be caused by breathing in asbestos dust and fibres.

Kenneth Ryan (on the right) died from mesothelioma in August 2019

The National Asbestos Helpline is helping Mrs Ryan and her family to make an industrial disease compensation claim on behalf of her husband.

Jan Garvey, from the National Asbestos Helpline, says: “Pleural fibrosis takes decades to develop. After such a long time it can be difficult to uncover the evidence needed to prove where and when exposure to asbestos dust occurred. The family needs the memories of people who worked in the power stations.

“To help we need to hear from ex-employees from the Ferrybridge Power Stations. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s did you work at the Ferrybridge Power Stations? Can you remember working with Kenneth Ryan? What were the working condition like and can you talk about the presence of asbestos?”

Kenneth Ryan worked in the Ferrybridge Power Stations for more than 30 years. He joined the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in the late 1960s and was an experienced instrument mechanic by the time he left the power stations at the age of 55.

Mr Ryan worked across the power stations where asbestos was used throughout the buildings because of its insulation and fire retardant properties. The deadly material was used to lag pipes and line walls. It was used in the construction of the switch rooms and boiler rooms.

Some of the pipework was in bad repair with the lagging hanging off or just painted over with emulsion. The boilers were serviced and stripped out regularly. As part of the boiler maintenance lagging teams would mix asbestos insulation in barrels before applying. It was a very dusty environment for everyone working near to the laggers and the maintenance worker.

Mrs Ryan says: “It was well known in the later years that asbestos had been presents at the power stations and many people had been exposed. We knew of power station workers who had died from asbestos-related illnesses but it was still a shock to be told by the hospital consultant, after Ken’s death, that is was caused by asbestos.

“We never thought that Ken would just sit down and die. We have friends in their 80s – coming up to 87 – and they’re still active and we talked about having another 10 to 15 years together. He wasn’t a man who complained. He just got on with it. He struggled a bit with his breathing and winter chest infections over the past two or three years but it wasn’t until he had a ‘wellness check’ that it was really picked up.”

Rita and Ken had been married for 46 years and had two sons Richard and Simon. At the age of 24, Simon died in a road traffic collision.

Any former employees of the Ferrybridge Power Stations who have information about the working conditions and asbestos please call Jan Garvey at the National Asbestos Helpline on freephone 0800 043 6635. Alternatively, email jan@nationalasbestos.co.uk. Your details will remain confidential.

Further reading

How can compensation for asbestos disease help?

What do I tell my GP if I am worried about asbestos exposure?

What is the asbestos compensation claims process? – Infographic

Practical information