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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 07:40 GMT
Payout for Corus blast survivor
Corus survivor Peter Clement, with his wife Helen
Peter Clement was just feet from the source of the explosion
A man who suffered 43% burns in a steel blast furnace explosion which killed three other workers has been awarded an undisclosed six-figure payout.

Peter Clement, 54, was one of 12 men injured in the blast at the Port Talbot steelworks in November 2001.

Len Radford, 53, from Maesteg, Andrew Hutin, 20, and Stephen Galsworthy, 25, from Port Talbot, all died.

Corus has admitted failing to ensure workers' and contractors' safety as well as civil liability for the blast.

In December last year a High Court judge ordered the firm to pay more than 3m for the breaches of health and safety laws.

I could feel myself being lifted up off the floor and flying through the air in a ball of flames
Corus worker Peter Clement

The explosion in 2001 destroyed blast furnace number five, lifting it off its base and blasting out 200 tonnes of steel slag and hot gasses.

The blast was caused by leaking water building up inside the furnace.

Negotiations over compensation have continued since Corus admitted civil liability about a year after the fatal explosion.

In addition to his burns, Mr Clement, from Gorseinon, Swansea, suffered septicaemia, renal failure, liver problems, neurological problems and psychiatric injuries.

He described the moment of the fatal explosion.

"I was standing on the cast house floor about 10 metres away from the furnace itself when I heard an almighty explosion.

Corus steelworks explosion
Amicus said the explosion caused 'enormous suffering' for the victims

"At the moment you sort of hear the bang I could feel myself being lifted up off the floor and flying through the air in a ball of flames."

The steelworker said he walked out of the wreckage not realising how badly injured he was and then he collapsed He had suffered 43% burns and other injuries.

"My shoulder was broken, my ribs were broken and I had what they call blast inhalation, which was breathing in the toxic fumes.

"While in hospital (I) had total organ failure as well, so it put my family through a bit of hell while I was there."

'Very frustrating'

Mr Clement acknowledged Corus had admitted liability for the accident early on but he said reaching this final settlement has been a difficult battle. "It's been a very frustrating five years, and I understand it could of taken a lot longer had I contested the compensation that they gave me.

He said he felt very bitter towards Corus and "cast aside and forgotten about".

His union, Amicus, said he needed to have dead bones removed and nerves transposed and that doctors said it was "a miracle" that he survived.

Amicus regional secretary Cath Speight said the explosion was a "horrific accident which caused enormous suffering for the victims".

The union is calling for amendments to the Corporate Manslaughter Bill which it believes fails to make company directors liable for the deaths of their employees.

Civil liability

Ms Speight added: "We think this case would have been concluded more quickly had the Corporate Manslaughter Bill been on the statue books."

A spokesman for Corus said: "Our thoughts will continue to be with the families who lost their loved ones and those who were so tragically affected by the accident.

"At the earliest possible stage, Corus made a full admission of civil liability as our priority was to provide the necessary support to the injured and bereaved.

"However, the process to settle the claims is specific and confidential to the individuals and is being handled by our insurers and where claims remain to be settled, interim payments have been made."




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Corus said the priority was support the injured and bereaved.



SEE ALSO
India's Tata wins race for Corus
31 Jan 07 |  Business
Anger at 'meagre' steel firm fine
15 Dec 06 |  South West Wales
Corus to pay 3m for fatal blast
15 Dec 06 |  South West Wales
Tribute by steelworker's family
02 May 06 |  South West Wales

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