A fuel distribution firm has been fined £30,000 after a joint failure caused a major petrol spillage.
British Pipeline Agency Ltd (BPA), based in Alexandra Road, Hemel Hempstead, was also ordered to pay £58,606 in costs after admitting a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The incident happened nearly four years ago, on October 20 2010, when the joint failure caused 35,000 litres of unleaded petrol to erupt from pipework in the West Midlands.
The fuel rained down across the Kingsbury fuel terminal near Tamworth and led to a major clean-up operation, with land surrounding the BPA-owned site having to be decontaminated.
Warwick Crown Court heard that BPA delivers fuel through an underground high-pressure pipeline network across the UK.
Petroleum-based fuel is distributed through pipelines from oil refineries and fuel terminals to customers around the country.
On October 20 BPA was pumping fuel from the pipeline into a storage tank when the alarms began to sound.
Managers inspected the site to investigate what was happening and saw that petrol was erupting in a huge fountain from an overground pipe section.
It was found that a pipeline which was feeding into the main pipe had come loose, and fuel was spraying everywhere and running across the terminal.
Joints were not tested before use
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched a probe into the incident and brought the prosecution against BPA for safety breaches.
It said that that the pipework which came loose had only recently been replaced, but the joints and fittings were not properly tested before they were put into use.
Speaking after the verdict, HSE inspector Alex Nayar said the leak could have caused a major fire or even an explosion, adding that it was “extremely fortunate” that this did not happen.
Health and safety at work
Workplaces can be dangerous places, and it’s essential that employers take care to protect their workers.
If you have been injured in a work accident that wasn’t your fault you may be entitled to personal injury compensation.
Call Accident Advice Helpline at any time on one of our free-phone numbers – 0800 689 0500 for landline calls and 0333 500 0993 for mobiles – to see if you have a claim.