Industry needs to continue to apply improvements, say regulators

Three years after a massive explosion and fire at the Buncefield fuel depot in Hemel Hempstead in England and the final report into the causes of the disaster has been published.

The Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB), chaired by Lord Newton of Braintree, was set up to investigate the causes of the explosions and establish lessons to be learned.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agencies (EA) said that businesses need to continue to make improvements.

Earlier this month the HSE and the EA said they would prosecute five companies including Total UK following the Buncefield explosions.

Commenting on its findings, Judith Hackitt, HSE chair said: ‘The work of the MIIB has already had a major impact on the way safety and environmental risks are controlled at similar sites and in ensuring improved resilience.’

Applying the lessons from Buncefield will remain a high priority for the HSE, she said.

Environment Agency, director of operations, David Jordan, said: ‘The work of the MIIB has been critical in promoting improved standards.’

He said the EA would continue to challenge the oil and fuel sector to put in place the remaining improvements that are needed.


On December 11 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. The MIIB carried out an investigation into the causes of the incident and ways to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The Government reported that good progress has been made in implementing the recommendations from the MIIB.

The MIIB was not appointed to take any decisions on legal proceedings. Decisions on criminal proceedings are for HSE and the EA as the enforcing authorities under the relevant regulations.

On December 1 2008 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (the EA) said they would prosecute five companies following the Buncefield explosions.

Criminal proceedings have been commenced against Total UK, Hertfordshire Oil Storage; British Pipeline Agency; TAV Engineering; and Motherwell Control Systems 2003.

The initial court date has been fixed for 23 January 2009 at West Hertfordshire Magistrates Court, Clarendon Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1ST.