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Five companies face prosecution over Buncefield

01 December 2008

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA) are to prosecute five companies following the explosions and fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in December 2005. Criminal proceedings have been commenced against Total UK, Hertfordshire Oil Storage, British Pipeline Agency; TAV Engineering and Motherwell Control Systems 2003.

Fire at Buncefield oil terminal. Courtesy: Hertfordshire Fire Service
Fire at Buncefield oil terminal. Courtesy: Hertfordshire Fire Service

A join HSE/EA statement stated that the decision to prosecute is now a matter for the Court. HSE and the EA are therefore unable to comment further on the decision to prosecute. The decision has, however, been taken following a thorough and complex criminal investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

The initial court date has been fixed for 23 January 2009 at West Hertfordshire Magistrates Court, Clarendon Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1ST. The prosecution of the five defendants in relation to the Buncefield incident

On 11 December 2005, a number of explosions occurred at Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in Hemel Hempstead. At least one of the initial explosions was of Richter Scale proportions and a massive blaze followed. Over 40 people were injured but there were no fatalities. Following the explosion, a Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) was established by the Health and Safety Commission. This was supported by the Board of the Environment Agency, under section 14 (2)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Lord Newton was appointed to chair the MIIB which has carried out an extensive investigation into the causes of the incident and ways to avoid similar incidents in the future and has published a number of reports.

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