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Shell ‘ignored safety warnings’ before Bacton explosion

16 June 2011

Shell UK ignored safety warnings from staff before an explosion at a gas terminal in 2008, a court has heard.

The company has admitted seven safety and pollution offences following the explosion and fire at the Bacton terminal in Norfolk.

Shell UK was back at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday for a sentencing hearing expected to last two days.

The prosecution has been brought by the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.

‘Sleepwalking’

Shell has admitted breaching two Health and Safety Regulations and five areas of environmental legislation, including pollution prevention and control.

The court heard the Bacton terminal was one of three gas terminals in the UK.

The prosecution said that safety breaches had taken place at the plant over a number of years, and that Shell had been “sleepwalking” and ignoring warnings from staff.

The explosion at the plant in February 2008 led to concrete and metal being blown up to 100m (328ft).

No-one was seriously hurt as staff had gone to their offices to prepare for a shift change.

It is estimated that as a result of dealing with the explosion, 850 tonnes of water, foam and a dangerous substance called North Sea Concentrate ended up in the sea.

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