• Robert Spicer

Essar Oil (UK) Ltd fined £1.65million for major oil refinery explosion

Essar Oil (UK) Ltd fined £1,650,000 after explosion at refinery [remove for online]

Health and Safety Executive v Essar Oil (UK) Ltd (2017) Liverpool Crown Court, April 3

Statutory reference: regulation 4 of the Control of Major Hazards Regulations 1999 (CMHR)

Essar Oil (UK) Ltd has been fined following an explosion at its refinery in Ellesmere Port, which caused more than £20 million worth of damage.

The facts

· In November 2013, during the startup of the refinery’s main distillation unit, highly flammable hydrocarbons were allowed to enter an unignited furnace. The heat from another furnace triggered a major explosion which destroyed the furnace, caused internal structures to collapse and started a number of fires.

· The company had failed to take all measures necessary to prevent or mitigate a major accident.

· A safety-critical valve was ordered and installed incorrectly and the company failed to correctly validate its operation.

· The company failed to adequately assess the installation of a new safety-critical trip. It failed to recognise that the system had a bypass line which defeated the trip’s operation.

· The company’s policy was to isolate main fuel lines to the furnace. Hydrocarbons entered the furnace through a secondary fuel line which had not been isolated when shut down.

The decision

The company was fined £1,650,000 plus £57,000 costs under regulation 4, CMHR.

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