Parents can sue for toxic dump defects

The parents of 30 children born with birth defects have been given permission to sue the Midlands council they believe is responsible for allowing the toxic contamination of the area.

The mothers of children born with malformed limbs have been given the right to launch a class action against Corby Borough Council.

The defects vary in severity and include webbed, malformed or missing digits, hands and feet.

The mothers of the children blame the problem on toxic waste dumps left over from Northamptonshire’s formerly thriving steel industry, claiming there was never an adequate clean-up and exposure to contamination during pregnancy led to the defects.

Their claim has been working its way through the legal system since early 2002, after alarm bells started ringing when local hospitals found themselves dealing with an unusually high incidence of limb defects.

Corby used to be at the county’s industrial heart and following the closure of a large British Steel plant in the 1980s the local council was left in charge of the clean up.

Questions have been raised over the management of the operation where lorries brought toxic waste and dumped it in around a dozen pits in and around the town.

The waste is thought to have been mainly lead and zinc-based byproducts of steelworking.

Locals talk of a sour smell hanging in the air for days around the time of the dumping.

The case against the council is based upon a report showing the number of cases of lower limb congenital defects were three times higher in Corby during the period in question than in the surrounding area.

None of the families involved in the case have any history of congenital abnormalities similar to those displayed by the children.

The council has always maintained it has not behaved improperly and has welcomed the opportunity to answer the case in court.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers has granted the parents permission to bring a class action against the council relating to the council’s management of the land remediation project.

By Sam Bond

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