Buncefield investigators urge higher safety standards

The committee investigating the Buncefield depot fire called for higher safety safety standards and environmental protection at fuel sites and refineries in the UK in its latest report, published on Thursday.

This is the fifth report the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Boards (MIIB) has published since the December 2005 fire in Hemel Hempstead.

The Board was appointed by the Healthy and Safety Commission to monitor the investigation into the explosions and fire of 2005.

Lord Newton, the Chairman of the Buncefield Investigation Board, said: “This report challenges the industry to substantially strengthen safety standards at sites handling large quantities of fuel.

“It calls for a more consistent response to broadly similar major hazard risks than are the case today. Specific recommendations are made for operators to rigorously assess levels of safety and reliability required in the design and operation of relevant sites.”

Recommendations in the report focus on environmental protection, standards for process safety and higher standard of operations.

Highlights include a call for a higher level in safety improvements at sites in the UK that store and transfer petroleum products on a large scale. Particular attention is drawn to issues to do dealing with training, shifts and working hours.

Lord Newton continued: “In preparing this report we have also taken into account the work of others. Other sources have included industry specialists and experts, and the Baker Report on the Texas City incident in the USA.”

The MIIB report is said to cover risk reduction to those who work on or live near such sites, and to the communities and the natural environment that can be damaged by extreme events such as Buncefield.

The report on the Design and Operation of Fuel Sites can be accessed here.

Dana Gornitzki

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