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Buncefield investigation board publishes final report

11 December 2008

Three years to the day after the explosions and fire at Buncefield, the board, set up to investigate the incident, has published its final report. The Health and Safety Executive, Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which form the joint Comah Competent Authority, have welcomed the publication of this final report into the causes of the disaster at the fuel storage depot.

Buncefield burning in December 2005
Buncefield burning in December 2005

The Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) – chaired by Lord Newton of Braintree – was set up to investigate the causes of the incident and identify lessons to be learned. It is thought that the damage resulting from the incident, which injured 40 people, could reach £1billion.

Commenting on MIIB report, Judith Hackitt, HSE Chair said: “I am very grateful to the Rt Hon Lord Newton of Braintree and his Board for the extraordinary commitment and rigour brought to the investigation of the Buncefield incident. The work of the MIIB has already had a major impact on the way safety and environmental risks are controlled at similar sites and in ensuring improved resilience.”

“Producing interim reports has enabled early action to be taken but the continuation of learning and applying the lessons from Buncefield and other similar incidents will remain a high priority for HSE and the Competent Authority for the foreseeable future,” Hackitt added.

Environment Agency, Director of Operations, David Jordan, commented: "The work of the MIIB has been critical in promoting improved standards at sites similar to Buncefield in England and Wales. The Competent Authority has completed or made significant progress towards the MIIBs recommendations to improve safety and reduce risks to the environment at Comahsites.

“The Government has recognised that good progress has been made in implementing MIIB recommendations and the Environment Agency will continue to challenge the oil and fuel sector to put in place the remaining improvements that are needed,” Jordan added.

This is the ninth and final report of the Buncefield MIIB. It is made to the Boards of the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency that together form the joint Competent Authority responsible for regulating the Buncefield site. Volume 1 draws attention to some of the ways the Board has set about its business. It explains the significance of the Buncefield Depot and describes briefly how the explosions and fires happened and the damage they caused. It also summarises all the Board’s recommendations to regulators, industry and government.

Volume 2 brings together all the Board’s previous reports in a single publication for the public record and for future reference: three progress reports; an Initial Report; a report into the explosion mechanism; and reports giving recommendations on design and operation of fuel storage sites, emergency preparedness for, response to and recovery from incidents, and land use planning and the control of societal risk around major hazard sites.

The report has been posted on the Buncefield Investigation website. Follow the link below to see the full report.

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