Oil Company Fined For Gas Explosion

Accident At Work


An oil storage company has been fined £125,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 after a huge explosion and fire in which one worker "miraculously" avoided death.

Michael White was working on the roof of a tank at an Eco-Oil plant in Rochester, in March 2007, when a tank containing 300,000 litres of mixed lube oil and fuel exploded, sparking by a large fire.

The fire service prevented the blaze from spreading, and Mr White only sustained minor injuries to his leg.

HSE Inspector David Gregory, said: "It was miraculous that the person on the tank at the time it exploded was not killed."

Eco-Oil Ltd of Canterbury, Kent and company director Ian Malcolm Cross from Millbourne, Wickhambreaux, were each charged with breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Maidstone Crown Court. They both pleaded guilty.

The court fined the company £125,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £20,000. Mr Cross was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £500.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the fines imposed following this terrifying explosion at work.

“This accident at work could have had tragic consequences.”

Mr Urpeth represented over 75 workers and many residents who were injured in the 2001 at the Killingholme refinery when over 170 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas caught fire, the largest chemical disaster since Flixborough. Conoco-Phillips, who owned the plant, was eventually fined £1m for breaching health and safety regulations after the explosion at its Humber refinery.