The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the Board of the Environment

Agency (EA) today have received and endorsed publication of the initial

report by the independent Major Incident Investigation Board appointed to

supervise the investigation of the explosion and fires at the Buncefield

Oil Storage Depot, Hemel Hempstead, on 11 December 2005.

The Major Incident Investigation Board, chaired by Lord Newton of

Braintree, concluded that sufficient knowledge of the Buncefield incident

had been gathered to draw broad conclusions about the sequence of events

leading to the explosion although uncertainty remains about why it was so

violent.

Bill Callaghan, Chair of HSC, said:

"The Commission places on record its appreciation for the Investigation

Board's work and the thorough, objective, timely and transparent manner in

which it has gone about it. The Board recognised that the severity of the

incident was of great concern to the local community and industry, and has

made strenuous efforts to ensure that they are kept abreast of the

investigation findings as they develop. The Commission also record its

thanks to the detailed work of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and EA

staff who have supported the Board.

"The report indicates that good progress has been made in identifying the

root causes of the incident, in spite of the widespread damage caused by

the explosions and fires. It is of paramount importance to ensure that all

the lessons of Buncefield are learned to prevent recurrence of such an

incident, and to ensure the maximum effectiveness of emergency arrangements

if an incident does occur. The Commission values the actions already taken

by the HSE and EA following findings contained in earlier progress reports,

and looks to the fuel and oil storage industry to take all appropriate

measures."

The Investigation Board identified three key issues as the focus of its

work:

· The design and operation of storage sites;
· emergency response to incidents; and,
· land use planning.

The HSC and HSE are now considering the Investigation Board's report and early conclusions, and look forward to the Board's future work.