BP’s decision fuels controversy at Buncefield
BP’s decision to once again store fuel on the Buncefield site, scene of the biggest peacetime fires in Europe, has been condemned by local businesses in the area as “underhand, insensitive, ill advised and potentially dangerous”.
The stern criticism follows the oil company’s announcement last week that it intends to store fuel on the site, despite earlier assurances by BP that they would first discuss any intentions with the Maylands Partnership. The partnership is the Task Force established to oversee the recovery of the business area following the explosion in December 2005.
“The Partnership has worked extremely hard to develop a constructive dialogue with BP and the other Buncefield operators, so we are totally dismayed to discover they aim to begin storing highly volatile fuel on the site again”, said Partnership Chairman, Peter Blackwell.
“We are strongly opposed to the storage of petrol and diesel at Buncefield and will do everything in our power to ensure this does not happen”.
The local business community had already made clear that they did not want petrol or diesel fuel stored in tanks at the Buncefield depot. BP’s proposal to store petrol in three of its seven tanks defies the wishes of the 620 businesses and 16,500 people who work on Maylands Business Park.
The Buncefield Investigation team has not yet concluded its work and the Health and safety Executive are still considering the safety implications, particularly relating to safe storage. Some of the storage tanks that BP intends to reinstate are less than 100 metres from business premises, yet they know that the HSE are considering safety zones that extend as far as 400 metres from petrol storage facilities.
Since the explosion, there have been enormous efforts to ensure the survival of local businesses and attention is now turning to regeneration and renewal of the Business Park. The Partnership is extremely concerned that BP’s decision will now deter businesses from moving to what would otherwise be an excellent locality.
“Before BP can store fuel on the site again, they need the approval of the HSE, so we are appealing directly to them not to give them the green light until they are totally convinced that such an explosion cannot happen again”, said Peter.
“As such assurances can never be given, this approval should never be lifted”, he added.