About Your Area Developments R&A Links Monitoring Campaigns BAQMG Bucks Air Quality Management Group
Press Release 09/05/2006, Buncefield investigation board – Statement on publication of third progress report The Board is publishing today a third report from Taf Powell, the Investigation Manager, on progress with the investigation into the explosions and fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot on 11 December 2005. We are pleased to be able to publish this further report so soon after the second progress report, on environmental aspects, on 11 April.The Board also notes that today the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is publishing its Initial Review of the Air Quality Aspects of the Buncefield Oil Depot Explosion. We welcome this as a further contribution to the stock of public information about the cause and consequences of this incident. The third progress report makes clear that most of the main facts of the cause of the Buncefield incident are now known with reasonable confidence. In particular the report describes how overfilling of tank 912 led to an escape of fuel (now known to be unleaded petrol); and how this in turn led to the formation of a cloud of flammable vapour that subsequently ignited. More work is needed to fully understand the explosion mechanism and how it generated such extreme overpressures, thereby causing so much damage. However, enough is known for the Board to see the way forward to producing the initial report required by the investigation’s terms of reference. Other stakeholders and the general public rightly expect the investigation to lead to practical recommendations that will enhance safety at and around sites such as Buncefield. Two key areas are the design and operation of such sites; and the approach to land use planning controls in their vicinity. In relation to design and operation, both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency are in the process of completing work prompted by earlier investigation findings; namely HSE’s safety alert of 21 February* and the Environment Agency’s inspection advice of 10 April (reproduced at Annex 1 of the third report). Pending the outcome of this and other ongoing work the Board emphasises the need for site operators to continue to act on the advice of HSE and the Environment Agency. In relation to land use planning the Board’s statement of 21 February, on publishing the first progress report, emphasised the importance we attach to HSE reviewing the advice it gives to planning authorities in relation to sites such as Buncefield, as information emerges from the investigation. While we still do not fully understand why the explosion was so violent, enough information has now emerged to enable HSE to undertake this review. We have asked HSE to press on with this as a matter of urgency. Another matter of high public interest is identifying who, if anyone, is responsible for the events leading to the incident. The investigation into the causes of the incident will feed into the ongoing criminal investigation. At the conclusion of the criminal investigation it is for HSE and the Environment Agency to decide whether there are grounds to pursue criminal proceedings. Information from the investigation may be relevant to any prosecution. In deciding what information can be published the Board has taken account of the need to avoid prejudicing any future legal proceedings. The Board’s focus now is on producing its own initial report on findings and early recommendations later this year. Source: http://www.buncefieldinvestigation.gov.uk/