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Shell "breached fire-safety law"

Shell International fined over fire safety


Serious fire-safety failings have resulted in Shell International being fined £300,000 with £45,000 costs at Inner London Crown Court.

Said a London Fire Brigade spokesman: "The inspecting officers found extensive breaches, including blocked escape routes and fire exits, defective fire doors and excessive fire loading.

"The deficiencies were so severe the London Fire Brigade served a prohibition notice on Shell which restricted the use of the Shell Tower and basement levels.

"All employees and members of the public were prevented access until the affected areas were considered to be safe enough to occupy."

Prosecution followed two fires in three weeks at the Shell Centre in London. The company admitted breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO).

It was the largest fine ever imposed under the measure after it was also found that Shell's own fire-risk assessment had not been reviewed or updated since March 2003.

Said London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson: "This conviction shows that major companies are not exempt from prosecution and must take their responsibilities under the RRO seriously."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: I welcome the fine imposed for what were shocking deficiencies by Shell.

"These breaches could have led to a terrible work accident involving extensive loss of life of employees of Shell and members of the public.

"What makes this situation worse is that Shell, as a petrochemical company, will be well aware of the dangers of fires and should have been well places to have excellent fire systems in place."

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