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Gas terminal blast: Shell fined £1m plus £240,000 costs

The court heard the company ignored warnings from staff before the explosion

20 June 2011

Shell UK has been fined £1m plus £240,000 costs after an explosion at a gas terminal in Norfolk in 2008.

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

Ipswich Crown Court heard the company ignored warnings from staff before the explosion.

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

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

“Sleepwaking into danger’

The blast in February 2008 could have killed 10 people, according to prosecutor Andrew Marshall.

The only reason there were no fatalities was because staff were changing shifts at the time, he added.

Judge Martin Binning heard Shell managers had been warned several times by workers over the presence of high levels of North Sea condensate, a highly-flammable hydro-carbon.

Shell UK had previously admitted not taking sufficient steps to protect staff and the public.

Mr Marshall said: “Management were sleepwalking into danger, no matter what was brought to their attention.

“What is not in doubt is that what took place could have been fatal for those in the vicinity of this lethal blast.

“The Crown estimates that 10 people could have been killed and that is not taking into account the injuries, serious injuries and further issues that can follow from such a situation.”

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