Department for Work and Pensions
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Government responds to the work of the Buncefield major incident investigation board

Government responds to the work of the Buncefield major incident investigation board

DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS News Release (HSE-112) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 13 November 2008

Good progress has been made in implementing the recommendations from the Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB), the Government will say today as it responds in detail to the MIIB's work.

As a result of the MIIB's work, many steps have already been taken in securing improvements at fuel storage depots and a range of actions implemented to prevent a similar incident happening again. Progress has also been made in enhancing planning for emergencies and the effectiveness of the response to emergencies at major hazard sites. There has also been careful planning to maintain the resilience of the UK's fuel supply.

Lord McKenzie, DWP Minister responsible for Health and Safety said:
"I am very grateful to Lord Newton of Braintree and his Board for their very thorough and extensive work which will lead to improved safety, environmental protection and resilience at and around major hazard sites.

"Overall, I can report that good progress has been made against the recommendations contained in the reports. The Government, the Competent Authority, industry through the Buncefield Standards Task Group and others subject to the recommendations, have responded promptly.

"They have set in train a programme of work which will ensure real improvements in the prevention of major incidents and, should major incidents occur, that effective plans are in place to respond and recover in the best way possible."

Lord Newton's Board has produced four substantive reports stating findings and recommendations (together with a further four progress reports). The Government has today responded to two of the substantive reports, concerning the 'Design and operation of fuel storage sites' and 'Emergency preparedness for, response to and recovery from incidents'. The recommendations in these two reports are aimed mainly at site operators and the Competent Authority, but there are also recommendations for a number of Government Departments on emergency preparedness.

With regard to the remaining two substantive reports, one - The explosion mechanism advisory group report - is being progressed by a specialist group of regulators, academics, and industry representatives. The other - Recommendations on land use planning and the control of societal risk around major hazard sites - was published on 15 July 2008. Government consideration will be led by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who will respond substantively in due course once the recommendations have been fully considered.

-ENDS-

DWP Press Office: 0203 267 5144
Website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk

Notes to editors

1. On 11th 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 and 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.

2. The Government response addresses, firstly, the MIIB's Recommendations on the design and operation of fuel storage sites. Securing improvements at fuel storage depots is a key business priority for the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 (COMAH) Competent Authority (CA), comprising HSE, the Environment Agency (EA) and in Scotland the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The CA has used the regulatory provisions of COMAH to their full to ensure compliance with improvements necessary to prevent a similar incident. Where the implementation of these recommendations requires changes to safety reports for COMAH top tier sites these will be assessed when the safety report is next submitted to the CA.

3. The Government response also addresses the MIIB's Recommendations on the emergency preparedness for, response to and recovery from accidents. This report is aimed at improving planning for emergencies and the effectiveness of the response to emergencies at major hazard sites. Government organisations have already responded to the recommendations with a programme of action. In particular the Cabinet Office has embarked on a review of Part 1 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to ensure that it continues to provide a modern, consistent and effective platform for civil protection in the UK.

4. The Government response is published as Command Paper Cm.7491 on the DWP website (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/resourcecentre/policy-publications.asp#other).

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