Gracemere man sues Anglo Coal

GRACEMERE man Laurie Clem claims he caught a serious lung disease after breathing in a “fine mist” coming from a Central Queensland mine site air-conditioner.

Laurie Clem, 50, has lodged an application to start proceedings with the Supreme Court at Rockhampton claiming he caught Legionella at Middlemount's Grasstree Mine.

The application said Mr Clem had suffered an ongoing speech problem, anxiety disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, major depression, memory difficulties, sweats while sleeping and cramping problems since he contracted the disease in November 2006.

“On Wednesday, November 22, 2006, the claimant was standing with a colleague on the veranda outside the office which was next door to a new air-conditioning unit from the pit,” the application said.

“The air-conditioning unit started up and the claimant noticed a fine mist coming out of the unit.

“The wind was blowing the mist towards the veranda outside the office where the complainant was standing.”

It said two or three days later the complainant started to feel headaches and cold-like symptoms.

Mr Clem complained to his manager that he did not feel well and an assessment was made for him to attend a doctor's surgery at Middlemount.

The doctor thought he had a viral flu.

Mr Clem returned to Rockhampton and was taken to hospital where he underwent testing which later showed he had Legionella infection.

“On the day the incident occurred the injured person was undertaking a training course in the office building.”

The application says the two respondents, Anglo Coal and Aggreko Generator Rentals, failed to provide a safe workplace and did not have appropriate and regular testing of water in the cooling towers of the air-conditioning unit.

A spokesman for Aggreko this week declined to comment, while The Morning Bulletin was unsuccessful in attempts to contact a spokesperson for Anglo Coal.

Legionnaire's disease

• Legionella are small gram-negative rodshaped bacteria that are natural aquatic bacteria occurring widely in the natural aquatic environment but most frequently in water at temperatures between 20C and 50C.

• Over 40 individual species of Legionella are known;

• The majority of human infections are caused by the species Legionella pneumophila and it mainly affects adults, with men being more at risk than women;

• Legionella pneumophila was first discovered following a pneumonia outbreak at the 1976 Convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia;

• The species Legionella pneumophila is divided into 16 subgroups (called serogroups).


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