COMPENSATION payouts for asbestos-related deaths and illnesses in the local area totalled more than £1m last year, figures obtained by the Adver show.

Settlements relating to employees who worked at the former British Railways Board’s engineering plant in Swindon totalled £994,453. Payments from Wiltshire Council in relation to people it employed in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett came to £57,000.

In 2010 BRB (Residuary) Ltd, which handles railways claims, paid out £920,000, while the local authority’s settlements amounted to £96,000. Combined payouts totalled £588,000 in 2009, while the railways board paid out £821,700 in 2008 and more than £1m the year before that.

Wiltshire Council did not provide figures for the last two years.

The amounts do not include other sources of compensation though a spokesman for Swindon Council said it had not made any payouts over the period.

BRB is a residual company set up to take care of the remaining functions of British Rail, including its liabilities as an employer, after it was split up and sold off.

The information was supplied after a Freedom of Information Act request by the Adver.

Workers have described how asbestos used to blow around like ‘snow’ at the former GWR works, part of which is now the Steam museum. Asbestos-related diseases – which take up to 60 years to develop – have become so rife that conditions such as mesothelioma have been dubbed ‘Swindon disease’.

The Adver told last week how a widow of a former Swindon railway worker who died three years ago from an undetected asbestos-related cancer received £70,000 in compensation.

Samuel Dean, who lived in Queensfield with wife Mavis, worked for British Rail for 33 years as a general crane worker and for much of that period was continuously exposed to asbestos. Mr Dean suffered from breathing problems for the last 15 years of his life before he died aged 81 in 2009.

The Swindon and South West Asbestos Group is a regional charity which provides support groups and a free advice service to people suffering from asbestos diseases and to their families. They now offer home visits to sufferers in the Swindon area to advise on benefits available.

For further details, contact the group on 01793 532995 or email or visit at