Emergency planning call after Buncefield disaster

17-07-2007

Emergency planning call after Buncefield disaster
Britain's emergency services must learn serious lessons from the Buncefield oil depot fire of December 2005, the incident's investigation board has concluded.

Its sixth report includes a number of recommendations on how to improve emergency preparedness, response and recovery arrangements.

The Buncefield fire in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, was caused by an overflowing tank which led to an explosion shortly after 06:00 GMT on December 11th 2005.

Today's report found that part of the reason for the disaster was that "violent explosions and fires engulfing many tanks were not judged as being credible events".

It suggests emergency services plan for similar development incidents, potentially preventing them from growing into far larger crises.

"However much improvement is made in preventive measures, there can be no guarantee that a major incident will not occur," board chairman Lord Newton warned.

"The measures we call for include better mutual aid and other collective arrangements across Britain to assure all aspects of potential emergencies are adequately catered for, including public health aspects."

There were no casualties and insignificant air pollution at ground level from the fire and its enormous plume of thick black smoke which slowly spread across south-east England.

But the blaze caused several injuries as well as damage to local livelihoods and hundreds of nearby homes.

"We would like to acknowledge the great resilience of the local community and business in the ongoing recovery effort to bring about a return to social normality," Lord Newton added.


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