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January 26, 2011

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HSE to take no further action following Shrewsbury gas explosion

An investigation by the HSE has concluded that no one can be held responsible for a gas explosion in Shrewsbury town centre, which injured 12 people last year.
 
The explosion occurred on 3 January 2010 and destroyed a number of flats and a restaurant on the town’s Bridge Street. Six people were seriously injured and six others suffered minor injuries.
 
The HSE’s report of its investigation states that the explosion was caused by gas igniting from a fractured iron gas pipe, which was located in the footway in front of the 1-5 Bridge Street. Investigators believe the pipe cracked due to the corrosive nature of the soil but they stressed there was no evidence of failures by the pipeline operator.

In September 2009, the National Grid wrote to British Telecom’s legal representatives claiming that BT had incorrectly laid a concrete chamber over the gas pipe, which National Grid believed had contributed to the pipe cracking.  However, the HSE’s report revealed there was “no evidence of any breach of relevant safety legislation” and consequently it will not be taking any enforcement action.
The lead investigator on the case, Inspector Nicola Wade, said: “This has been a complex investigation, involving many hours of work and forensic analysis to understand exactly what happened on 3 January 2010.

“The most likely cause of the explosion is that gas escaped from the fractured gas main and ignited nearby, despite no previous reports of a gas leak in the area. The gas main was correctly classified as low-risk; it had been subject to stresses over time, causing a fracture.”

To view the report click here.

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