Explosion rained cement over two kilometres

A firm has been fined after causing an explosion which sent cement powder raining down on homes and businesses up to two kilometres away.

CEBO UK, based in Peterhead, pled guilty to breaching its Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit at Peterhead Sheriff Court.

The firm was ordered to be costs and a fine totalling £14,000 for the accident, which happened on May 28, 2008, when a silo on the site broke due to lack of maintenance.

As a result it belched out five tonnes of cement powder on to roadways, buildings, boats, vehicles and people around the site.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency investigated the blast and found silo maintenance records were not up-to-date and, as a result, it should not have been in use after February 2008.

The hatch lid retaining brackets were, the court heard, ‘badly corroded’ and were in a ‘poor state of repair’ which contributed to the failure of the silo.

SEPA’s investigating officer, Martyn Howie, said after the hearing: “This incident was both serious and avoidable.

“Serious in that a large amount of cement powder was forcibly ejected into the atmosphere causing widespread pollution and avoidable through the correct and timeous maintenance of the silo.

“It should be remembered that although in common use, cement is an aggressive powder which can cause harm to both the environment and human health and damage to property.

“The scale of this incident cannot be understated, not only were a number of people working on and around the site exposed to cement dust, but a significant number of complaints were received from local residents and businesses regarding cement deposits on property, gardens and vehicles indicating wider exposure to the dust.”

Luke Walsh

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