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Kent-based oil company fined £125,000

11 November 2009

A kent-based waste oil storage company has been fined £125,000 over poor safety standards that led to a huge explosion and fire in 2007. The company’s director has also been fined.As well as the fine imposed, Eco-Oil were also ordered to pay £20,000 costs. The company, which has been operating at a loss, was given 10 months to pay the total of £145,000.

Ian Cross, of Wickhambreaux, Canterbury, who has since retired as managing director, was fined £5,000 with £500 costs.

Cross and Eco-Oil both pleaded guilty breaches of duty under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974, sections 2(1) and 3(1).

The HSE investigation followed an incident on 30 March 2007 at Eco-Oils site in Kingsnorth Industrial Estate, Rochester. The waste oil storage and processing facility held many large tanks and on the day, upgrading work was being carried out. The work included installing walkways and guardrails around the tanks to provide safer access.

A contract worker was welding the roof of one tank, when the contents of the tank ignited, resulting in a huge fire.

The tank that exploded contained approximately 300,000 litres of mixed lube oil and fuel. The efforts of the Fire Service prevented the fire spreading to adjacent tanks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging employers storing hazardous substances in bulk tanks to fully assess the risks and implement the necessary controls to ensure staff and contract workers are safe.

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