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Process safety leadership group publishes final report on site safety at fuel storage sites

11 December 2009

The Process Safety Leadership Group has today published a report that specifies minimum standards of safety and environmental protection for all UK sites storing large volumes of gasoline.

"Safety and environmental standards for fuel storage sites" is the final report of the Group, formed as a response to the Buncefield Incident Investigation Board (MIIB), following the explosions at the site in December 2005. The PSLG consists of expert representatives from the industry and the COMAH Competent Authority as regulators.

The report's publication comes exactly four years to the day of the incident.

Announcing the report, PSLG chair, Tony Traynor, Operations Director of Ineos Refining said:

"Major incidents such as the fire and explosion at Buncefield and that at BP Texas City remind those of us working in the petrochemical and major hazard industries just how important it is to ensure high standards in day to day control over the safe storage and use of hazardous materials.

"Industry and regulators have worked together to develop the guidance we are publishing today in order to prevent a recurrence of such incidents. We have moved beyond the pure science and engineering responses to develop ways to prevent a future incident. We have also critically examined the leadership issues associated with delivering what has to be excellent operation and maintenance of high-hazard processes.

"This report and its recommendations represent the outcome of a tremendous amount of work by the industry, trade unions and the regulator. I would like to thank them for all their efforts, tenacity and input. Our work can and will make a significant contribution to improving process safety - the challenge for all of us now is to deliver."

Peter Baker, Head of HSE's Chemical Industries Division said:

"On behalf of the COMAH Competent Authority (CA) I welcome the publication of the PSLG report. It sets out much more than purely technical solutions required for the safe operation of a large-scale fuel storage site. It encompasses the important leadership, managerial and human factors issues that lie at the root of many serious incidents. Monitoring the implementation by industry of these recommendations, some of which are already in progress, is a priority for the COMAH CA, and will form part of our intervention and enforcement strategies."

Notes to editors

  1. The Process Safety Leadership Group final report on Safety and Environmental Standards for Fuel Storage Sites is published at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/buncefield/response.htm
  2. The Process Safety Leadership Group (PSLG) is a joint industry and regulators group, set up in September 2007 to drive forward high standards in process safety leadership and to complete the implementation of the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board's recommendations. It comprises representatives of the United Kingdom Petroleum Industries Association (UKPIA); the Tank Storage Association (TSA); United Kingdom Onshore Pipeline Operators Association (UKOPA); Chemical Industries Association (CIA); Unite the union; Environment Agency (EA); Scottish Environment Protection Agency; and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  3. On 11 December 2005, a number of explosions occurred at Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in Hemel Hempstead. At least one of the initial explosions was of massive proportions, there was a large fire, and over 40 people were injured. Following the explosion, the MIIB (Major Incident Investigation Board) was established by the then Health & Safety Commission under section 14 (2) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The MIIB has carried out an extensive investigation into the causes of the incident and ways to avoid similar incidents in the future.
  4. The Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are jointly responsible (as the Competent Authority) for regulating nonnuclear major hazardous industrial sites in the UK under the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 (COMAH).

    COMAH requires operators of major hazard sites subject to the Regulations to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to persons and the environment. Operators of top tier COMAH sites (like Buncefield) are also required to submit written safety reports to the Competent Authority; and to prepare emergency plans to deal with the consequences of a major accident. Operators and others (including contractors, designers and suppliers) also have relevant duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and under other environmental legislation to protect land, air and water, including the Water Resources Act 1991.
  5. The Government reported that good progress has been made in implementing the recommendations from the Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) when the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions made a statement to Parliament on 13 November 2008. (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2008/november-2008/hse112-131108.shtml)
  6. Criminal proceedings have been commenced against Total UK Ltd, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd; British Pipeline Agency Ltd; TAV Engineering Ltd; and Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd following a thorough and complex criminal investigation conducted by HSE and the Environment Agency.
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Updated 2015-06-15