Coal pollution death compensation fast-tracked by Minister

Compensation for the widows and families of miners that died from coal-related diseases is being fast-tracked by the DTI as part of one of the biggest-ever injury claims.

“In the last six months of what is the largest personal injury compensation scheme in history, some 270,000 claims were submitted, mainly from miners’ children and grandchildren,” Coal Health Minister Nigel Griffiths said.

Mr Griffiths announced that the proposals, which were submitted to the High Court in advance of a hearing this week, will offer a flat rate of £1,200 to widows and £1,000 to next of kin in cases where the miner died over 20 years ago.

Due to the elapsed time period, medical records for such cases are often not available, making them difficult to assess and, therefore, the claims difficult to process. Around 78,000 claims are estimated to fall into the category.

For miners that passed away more recently, a respiratory specialist will fully assess the 112,000 claims and families can chose either to opt out, take the same early payment and exit the scheme, or opt in, be assessed and then paid accordingly.

“At the moment even the best respiratory specialists in the UK are struggling to assess compensation for respiratory disease where it is not mentioned on the death certificate, there are no medical or work records and family knowledge is limited,” Mr Griffiths stated. “Our proposals provide a pragmatic solution to this problem while offering relatives a much faster payout.”

“Clean coal” technology is currently being developed around the world as part of a global response to concerns about dependency on burning fossil fuels, which can have detrimental effects on the environment as well as public health (see related story).

By Jane Kettle

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