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December 14, 2009

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Site safety proposals aimed at fuel-storage facilities

Minimum standards of safety and environmental protection for all UK

sites storing large volumes of gasoline have been outlined in a new

report.

The Process Safety Leadership Group (PSLG), which was formed two years ago to complete the implementation of the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board’s recommendations, published its report four years to the day of the explosion on 11 December 2005.

The PSLG consists of representatives from the industry and the COMAH Competent Authority (CA) — the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and the HSE — as regulators.   
 
The report outlines a number of measures for fuel storage companies, which should help prevent a recurrence of such a major incident — as Buncefield. The COMAH CA has also promised to monitor the industry’s implementation of the recommendations and ensure that this informs its enforcement activities.

Announcing the report, PSLG chair Tony Traynor, operations director of Ineos Refining, said: “Major incidents, such as the fire and explosion at Buncefield and that at BP Texas City, remind those of us working in the petrochemical and major-hazard industries just how important it is to ensure high standards in day-to-day control over the safe storage and use of hazardous materials.”  
 
He continued: “Industry and regulators have worked together to develop the guidance we are publishing, in order to prevent a recurrence of such incidents. We have moved beyond the pure science and engineering responses to develop ways to prevent a future incident. We have also critically examined the leadership issues associated with delivering what has to be excellent operation and maintenance of high-hazard processes.”
 
Peter Baker, head of the HSE’s Chemical Industries Division, said: “On behalf of the COMAH Competent Authority (CA), I welcome the publication of the PSLG report. It sets out much more than purely technical solutions required for the safe operation of a large-scale fuel-storage site. It encompasses the important leadership, managerial, and human-factors issues that lie at the root of many serious incidents.

“Monitoring the implementation by industry of these recommendations, some of which are already in progress, is a priority for the COMAH CA, and will form part of our intervention and enforcement strategies.”

Following a criminal investigation of the Buncefield incident by the HSE and the Environment Agency, criminal proceedings have commenced against Total UK Ltd; Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd; British Pipeline Agency Ltd; TAV Engineering Ltd; and
Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd.  

‘Safety and environmental standards for fuel storage sites’ is available at www.hse.gov.uk/comah/buncefield/response.htm

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