Gas Leak In Essex
A gas leak on a major hazard site has cost a gas supplier nearly £55,000, after it was fined for what could have been a "catastrophe".
Calor Gas, based in Warwick, was fined £27,000 and ordered to pay £27,185 in costs at Basildon Crown Court after it was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The gas company admitted breaching health and safety regulations, after an inquiry was carried out following a leak of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) at the Calor Gas terminal on Canvey Island, Essex, in October 2008.
The 163-tonne leak happened while a ship was unloading gas to the site. An HSE spokesman said: "The gas, which is stored in a liquid form, escaped from a pipe when an over-pressure safety device operated. The liquid evaporated on contact with the ground, forming a vapour cloud above the site.
"Even when an employee eventually discovered the leak, no site emergency alarms were sounded. The company also failed to report the incident to HSE forthwith."
The HSE said the leak could have led to a "catastrophe".
HSE inspector John Hawkins said: "The leak could have been minimised had the sensor operated as intended. It was fortunate that the incident did not escalate further, since no emergency alarm sounded."
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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the fine imposed as this incident could so easily have led to a very serious work accident.
“It is appalling that the company handling such a dangerous product can be guilty of such health and safety breaches.
“Clearly, any fire or explosion at work poses a risk to both workers and local residents.”