Shell Uk Limited was fined £1 million and ordered to pay £242,000 costs after pleading guilty to severe breaches of legislation relating to health and safety and the environment.
The prosecution is the result of a fire and explosion at their Bacton gas terminal that occurred on 28 February 2008. The incident happened at about 6pm and it was only due to luck that no personnel suffered any injuries.
The blast, caused by a corroded metal separator vessel allowing hydrocarbon liquid to enter a water treatment section of the plant, caused a concrete roof to blow off a buffering tank. The water that was being treated was heated in a tank as part of this process and had exposed heating elements. The highly flammable leaked hydrocarbon liquid then came into contact with the heating elements and the resulting explosion was caused.
Other offences were caused as Shell UK did not inform the Environment Agency of the incident and allowed approximately 850 tonnes of water and foam used to control the fire to leak into the sea.
The breaches of legislation that Shell made a guilty plea to were under the the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations 2000. There were a total of seven breaches.
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