The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) today announced the appointment of the Rt. Hon. Lord Newton of Braintree as the independent chairman of the board supervising the investigation into the Buncefield oil depot incident on 11 December 2005.

Commenting on his appointment, Lord Newton, said: “The HSC’s decision to establish an investigation board was a significant move and highlights the severity of the incident and the degree of concern for people living close to the Buncefield site and to the wider industry. The investigation will be carried out thoroughly, objectively and concluded in a timely manner with its findings made public as soon as possible, subject to legal considerations.”

The investigation board will report to both HSC and the Environment Agency. The HSC Chair, Bill Callaghan, has approved the membership of the board. As well as the board chair, it also includes two other independent members with relevant expertise, Professor Dougal Drysdale, a leading authority on fire safety engineering and Dr Peter Baxter, a consultant physician in occupational and environmental medicine. Other board members are Taf Powell, Investigation Manager and head of HSE’s Offshore Division, David Ashton, head of HSE’s Field Operations North West and Headquarters Division and Paul Leinster, Director of Operations at the Environment Agency.

The board will oversee the investigation in accordance with HSE’s Major Incident Investigation Policy and Procedures.

The Commission will publish the special report under Section 14(5) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.