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Firm Convicted Over Depot Blast Deemed Loudest In Peacetime Europe

Industrial Deafness Expert Speaks Out


A firm has been convicted of breaching health and safety regulations in connection with the explosion at Buncefield oil depot which is thought to have been the loudest in peacetime Europe.

Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd, which is in voluntary liquidation, was found guilty by a St Albans Crown Court jury of a charge that it failed to ensure its employees were not exposed to health and safety risks between September 28 2003 and December 12 2005, the day after the explosion.

The Health and Safety Executive and Environment Agency are prosecuting the case, which was opened on April 15 and saw the jury retire on June 10.

A huge vapour cloud ignited when 250,000 litres of petrol leaked from a tank at the Hertfordshire depot. The blast could be heard 125 miles away and registered a reading of 2.4 on the Richter scale.

Total UK has already admitted three health and safety breaches in connection with the explosion, while the British Pipeline Agency Ltd has also pleaded guilty to two charges.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Mark Allen, an industrial deafness expert from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "The noise levels in this accident were such that they could have caused significant hearing damage. Loud blasts can cause ear drums to burst which can cause irreparable damage to the ear and leave people totally deaf if not profoundly deaf. This accident had the potential for tragic consequences and it is encouraging that both the HSE and Environment Agency have sought to prosecute".