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June 19, 2006

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Post-Buncefield safety alert findings published

Fuel storage facilities similar to Buncefield are generally complying with standards relating to management systems, good practice, emergency response measures and staff competence, according to the HSE.

Fuel storage facilities similar to Buncefield are generally complying with standards relating to management systems, good practice, emergency response measures and staff competence, according to the HSE.

Initial findings from the Executive’s safety alert issued to such facilities in February show a good level of compliance at all apart from five sites. Three of these – an Esso installation in the North West, BP Oils in Carlisle, and Highland Fuels in the north of Scotland – have been served with Improvement Notices, while the other two – in London and north-west England – were not subject to any direct enforcement action.

The review – carried out by the HSE, Environment Agency, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, as the Competent Authority (CA) – sought information from 108 bulk oil/fuel storage facilities on such issues as location and layout of bulk tanks and equipment, operational control measures, and inspection and maintenance systems. Overall, 86 per cent of the issues reviewed were found to be satisfactory, with 12 per cent giving rise to minor concern, and 2 per cent falling below good practice standards.

As a result of the review, the HSE is to revisit and clarify its guidance with representatives from across the industry, with a view to issuing revised guidance by mid-2007.

Meanwhile, the Executive has launched another joint investigation with the Environment Agency, this time into the explosion on 1 June at the Terra Nitrogen (UK) Ltd facility at Billingham. Two huge blasts rocked the Teesside site (pictured), which is occupied by a number of petrochemical and chemical companies. No one was injured in the incident and it was quickly brought under control. The joint HSE/EA investigation will seek to establish why the blast occurred by examining management and operating systems, and plant equipment. The site was not part of the post-Buncefield safety alert.

The ‘Initial Report on the findings of the oil/fuel depot safety alert review’ can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/comah/buncefield/

reviewjune06.pdf

 

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