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Daily Telegraph: Buncefield investigators consider legal action

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(The explosion at the Buncefield oil depot destroyed local businesses and forced residents from their homes)

By Katherine Griffiths, City Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:47am BST 17/07/2007
 
Investigators are still considering whether to bring legal action against companies and public bodies over the Buncefield oil depot explosion in 2005. Taf Powell, the investigation manager for Buncefield, said: “We are still pursuing all reasonable lines of inquiry.”

An explosion at the Buncefield depot in Hemel Hempstead on December 11, 2005 caused no deaths, mainly because it happened at the weekend. But the blast, the largest explosion in Europe since the Second World War, destroyed local businesses and forced residents out of their homes.

Today the Buncefield investigation board will call on the Government to improve emergency and recovery measures after major accidents. It will say that before the Buncefield explosion, companies and safety experts did not think fires engulfing several tanks together were “credible events”. The Government should develop better measures for curtailing big industrial emergencies in the future.

Lord Newton of Braintree, chairman of the Buncefield investigation board, said: “We applaud the efforts of the emergency response. The measures we call for are better mutual aid and other arrangements to assure all aspects of potential emergencies are adequately catered for, including public health.”

Industry and government sources have said the investigating board has considered possible negligence by employees of the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal (HOSL), the operating company. HOSL is 60pc owned by Total of France and 40pc by Chevron Texaco. BP and Shell own stakes in the British Pipeline Agency which operated storage tanks at Buncefield and were part of the consortium running the West London pipeline supplying Heathrow.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/07/17/cndepot117.xml

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