Lung disease worker had asbestos ‘snowball fights’ at oil refinery

Fawley oil refinery
Walter White (93) worked at Fawley oil refinery for 37 years

A FORMER Fawley oil refinery employee used to have “snowball fights with asbestos” during his time working there, a coroner was told.


Walter White (93) was taken ill at a care home where he was living in Lyndhurst in July last year, and he died in hospital from pneumonia.

A post-mortem later revealed that he was also suffering from asbestosis – a cancer related to the once widely-used substance.

In a statement read to an inquest held into Mr White’s death at Winchester coroner’s court, his son Ian revealed how his father worked at the Esso oil refinery for 37 years.

He told how Mr White started as a pipe maintenance worker and had talked to his family about how he and other employees used to have “snowball fights with asbestos” at the refinery. He left in 1985 when he retired at the age of 60.

Senior coroner Grahame Short heard Mr White, who was born in Southampton, had left school at the age of 14 and became a labourer.

At the age of 17 he had joined the army, becoming a stretcher bearer for The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

He had sailed to Europe on the second day of the D-Day landings and saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

After the war he became a school caretaker before joining Esso. He died on 5th July last year after being taken ill at Hartwood House care home in Lyndhurst.

Reaching a conclusion of death as a result of industrial disease, coroner Mr Short said: “Clearly the presence of asbestos in Mr White’s lungs was the result of asbestos exposure.

“He did work at the Fawley refinery for 37 years and certainly in the earlier part was involved in the construction and maintenance of pipework which had asbestos lagging.”