HINKLEY Point A nuclear power station has been labelled as the “greatest source of industrial dea-ths” in Somerset in the last 25 years by a coroner.

At an inquest into the death of a Bridgwater pensioner, coroner Michael Rose said up to 50 former workers at the plant may have died from an asbestos-related disease.

George Ramsey, 84, of Park Road, who worked at Hinkley for almost 30 years, died in April from mesothelioma and the inquest into his death concluded last week.

West Somerset coroner Mr Rose said he was so concerned about the high number of cases he would write to the Health and Safety Executive about setting up a register of deaths from the disease across England and Wales.

At an earlier hearing, Mr Rose said: “I am concerned about the high number of mesothelioma cases arising from workers employed at Hinkley Point power stations.

"More people have died in this county in the last quarter of a century from asbestos-related diseases than any other industrial illness or accident.”

Mesothelioma is caused through breathing in fibres of asbestos. The fibres can become lodged in the lining of the lung and it can take up to 60 years for symptoms, such as breathing difficulties and pain, to develop. There is no cure.

The inquest heard Mr Ramsey was not issued with any protective breathing equipment and there were no measures in place to prevent workers from inhaling asbestos dust.

Lee Talbot, Hinkley A site director, told the court the power station “relied heavily on the use of asbestos as an insulating material” during its construction but that safety standards and training on the site had improved hugely in recent years.

THE existing power station at Hinkley Point B and the planned plant at Hinkley Point C are operated by EDF Energy, which is unconnected to Hinkley Point A.