BBC NEWS, OCTOBER 31, 2006
The former steel plant at Corby, toxic waste was left at the site
Toxic waste disturbed in the clean-up operation at a former steel works is being blamed for birth deformities suffered by a group of children.
Mothers have told BBC One’s Real Story the deformities, such as babies born without fingers, were caused by work at the defunct plant in Corby, Northants.
More than 20 families are planning to sue Corby Borough Council in a High Court action due to be heard next year.
Council chief executive Chris Mallender has rejected the claims.
Joy Shatford: Devastated by son’s deformity and felt isolated
Some of the mothers lived close to the former steelworks, which closed in 1980 with the loss of 10,000 jobs, while others worked nearby.
Joy Shatford, whose son Daniel, 10, was born without fingers on his left hand, was devastated when she first realised his deformity.
“I thought I was the only one in the world who’d ever given birth to a son without any fingers,” she said.
But in a chance meeting at St James Infirmary, Leeds where Daniel was having reconstructive surgery, she met Susan McIntyre also from Corby whose son Connor had no fingers.
Twenty-two families, who were affected with children born between 1989 and 1999 suffering similar defects, are involved in the legal action. There are known to be others who do not wish to take part.
The families’ investigation has convinced them that the toxic chemical waste from the massive steel works was prime suspect.
The waste was dumped in pits on site but when it closed the council needed to clear it to reclaim the land for regeneration.
We’ve seen absolutely no evidence whatsoever, even circumstantial evidence, to link the very serious deformities to the waste reclamation – Chris Mallender, Corby Council
The families’ lawyer Des Collins claimed they have evidence that the council made a “complete and utter mess of the clean-up.”
Tracey Taylor, whose daughter died of a deformity, would follow lorries from the site in her car when she was pregnant.
“There was green-like sludge and all that on the car which I just put down to being off the wasteland that they’d come off.”
Corby Council rejects the families’ claims there was an above average rate of children born with deformities in the area and that these births were linked to the clean-up.
“The implementation of the programme was exemplary,” said its chief executive Chris Mallender.
He added: “We as a council have a huge degree of sympathy for the children and the families involved but we’ve seen absolutely no evidence whatsoever even circumstantial evidence to link the very serious deformities some of them suffer to the waste reclamation here in Corby.”
Real Story’s report on the children of Corby was screened on BBC1 on Wednesday 1 November at 19:30 GMT.