Conviction For Firm Over Depot Explosion

Buncefield Oil Depot Blast


A jury at St Albans Crown Court has found a firm guilty of breaching health and safety regulations in connection with the explosion at Buncefield oil depot in December 2005.

Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd was found to have failed to ensure its employees were not exposed to health and safety risks. The company is now in voluntary liquidation.

The explosion occurred when a vapour cloud ignited after 250,000 litres of petrol leaked from a tank at the Buncefield depot. It is believed that the explosion was the loudest in peacetime Europe and it registered 2.4 on the Richter scale.

Two other companies, Total UK and the British Pipeline Agency, have already admitted to playing a role in the blast.

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “This was a very significant work accident.  An explosion at work can pose a hazard to both workers and local residents.

“Any organisation involved in the use, manufacture or storage of explosive material clearly need to conduct their business in a safe and sensible manner so as to avoid any risk of fire or explosion which could cause an accident at work.

“All too often, I have to assist workers pursue their compensation claim following injuries sustained in a work accident, in circumstances which could and should have been avoided.”

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.