An oil storage company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,000 after contractors cut into a sealed pipe causing a tank to explode. The pipe, which was attached to a vessel, was being used as part of a waste oil recovery process. Flammable gases within the pipe ignited, resulting in the lid of the tank detaching due to pressure build up.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company was having difficulty with the waste oil recovery process which was foaming out of the vessel and filling its bund. Rather than dealing with the issue directly, a decision was taken to connect the vessel to an emergency relief dump tank to collect further foaming and this created a flammable atmosphere within the dump tank and connecting relief pipework.
Speaking after the hearing an HSE inspector said “Even though nobody was injured this incident could have been prevented if the work of the contractors had been controlled. The contractors were given a very basic induction and were not told about the process work being carried out and how it could impact on them. HSE has brought this prosecution because a failure took place that could have resulted in death or serious injury and we believe every person should be healthy and safe at work.”