Workman’s £1m Esso claim

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A SOUTH Yorkshire workman who claims his life has been blighted by exposure to a noxious gas leak at an Esso oil refinery has launched a High Court bid for more than £1 million damages.

Graham Wood, aged 42, was working as a steel erector at Esso’s Fawley Refinery near Southampton in 2005 when he says a nasty smell led to the alarm being raised and staff being evacuated.

Mr Wood claims to have started suffering breathlessness within an hour, and says he has gone on to develop asthma, Reactive Airway Dysfunctional Syndrome, and psychological consequences including anxiety and depression, the court in London was told.

His barrister, Jonathan Clarke, said the incident had had a devastating impact on all aspects of Mr Wood’s life and has greatly reduced his ability to earn.

Mr Wood, of Kirk Sandall, Doncaster, who was working at the refinery for an outside contractor, is suing Esso Petroleum Co Ltd for more than £1m compensation – mainly for lost earnings and “pain and suffering” – but the company denies liability.

Rohan Pershad, for Esso, described the allegations as “generic and unspecified” and said the company would present “firm and unequivocal” evidence that stringent safety measures were in place and there was “no danger for visitors to the premises”.

He said none of 30 other people present suffered any adverse reaction. The hearing is expected to last at least three days.