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December 1, 2008

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Buncefield blast- five firms face prosecution

Five companies are to be prosecuted over the December 2005 explosion at the Buncefield oil storage depot in Hemel Hempstead.

The HSE and the Environment Agency, who are the joint Competent Authority for regulating non-nuclear major hazard sites, announced today (Monday) that they have commenced criminal proceedings against: Total UK Ltd, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd (HOSL); British Pipeline Agency Ltd (BPA); TAV Engineering Ltd; and Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd (MCS).

The firms are charged with breaching the following legislation:

* Section 2(1) HSWA 1974 — failure to protect the health and safety of employees: Total UK Ltd;

* Sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) — failure to protect non-employees and others affected by their undertakings: Total, TAV and MCS;

* Sections 33(1)(c) – HOSL and BPA;

* COMAH 1999, reg.4 — failure to take all measures necessary to prevent a major accident and limit its consequences: HOSL and BPA; and

* Water Resources Act 1991, sections 85(1) and 85(6) — failure to prevent pollutants from entering ground water: Total, HOSL, and BPA.

The initial court date has been fixed for 23 January 2009 at West Hertfordshire Magistrates Court, in Watford.

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