ICL Plastics factory explosion "avoidable disaster"
A raft of measures designed to improve gas safety will go some way to ensuring that a blast which killed nine people in Glasgow five years ago does not happen again, the Work and Pensions Secretary has claimed.
Yvette Cooper said the most important and pressing measure was the replacement of all commercial buried metallic liquefied petroleum gas pipes, work on which had already begun.
The pipework is in the process of being replaced by polyethylene models, with officials predicting the scheme will be complete by 2015. Health and Safety Executive officials say they are confident the move will "substantially reduce the risk".
Ms Cooper added: "We will also take steps to raise awareness amongst LPG users of their responsibilities within the existing legislative framework and ensure they comply with safety standards, underpinned by appropriate enforcement activity."
An inquiry into the explosion at the ICL Plastics factory in 2004 found the incident was an "avoidable disaster".
The blast, which killed nine people and left 33 seriously injured, was caused by a build-up of leaking gas from corroded underground pipes which ignited.
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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the new measures which are designed to improve gas safety. Lets hope these measures prevent any repetition of the disastrous explosion which took place at ICL in 2004.
“A work accident involving an explosion can be disastrous not only for workers but any neighbours to the premises.
“Having seen the utter devastation caused by an explosion at work, I welcome the efforts being made to improve gas safety. “
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.