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The Buncefield Incident

The Buncefield incident is considered to be the UK's largest peacetime explosion to date.  It occurred at an oil storage depot in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.  ASK took part in a detailed internal investigation of the explosion on behalf of Hertforshire Oil Storage Ltd (HOSL).

The case:
Prior to the incident, almost a tenth of the UK's total oil supply came through the Buncefield site and was handled by HOSL, a joint venture between Total and Chevron. On 11th December 2005, several large explosions occured at the site near the M1 motorway, injuring 40 people and resulting in a fire that, over several days, destroyed most of the depot. By October 2008, HOSL was facing £700 million worth of compensation claims related to the fire, including from local residents, businesses and companies operating at the site.

ASK involvement:
Shortly after the incident, ASK was brought in to participate in an internal investigation to identify both the immediate and root causes of the incident. We were also instructed to carry out a focused review of the COMAH safety report for the installation and related documents, and to produce a report on the state of the art of vapour cloud explosion research - the latter because such a severe explosion "would not have been anticipated in any major hazard assessment of the oil storage depot prior to the incident" [Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board].

The result:
ASK is prevented from revealing the findings of its investigations at this time, however, we have been retained to give independent expert evidence in possible legal proceedings arising from the incident.

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