The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Bacton Gas Terminal Explosion Investigation

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, August 16, 2011
A Court in the UK has heard that the fire and explosion at the Bacton Gas Terminal in 2008 occurred as a result of safety, environmental control and pollution-prevention failures.

Shell UK, the operator of the gas terminal has recently been fined GBP 1 Million with a further GBP 243,000 in costs.

In Court, management at the plant were said to be "sleepwalking into danger", with numerous problems being brought to their attention by employees.

The explosion was found to have occurred when hydrocarbon condensate  leaked into the terminal's water treatment plant when a corroded metal separator vessel failed.

The condensate and water mixture then entered a concrete storage tank where it was heated.

The heating elements within the tank were exposed, raising the surface temperature significantly and causing the explosion.

The investigation found that the operator was aware key components had been failing yet there was no appreciation of the potential for an incident to happen.

The fact that no one was killed was put down to luck as the explosion occurred during a crew change. 

The Court heard that up to ten individuals could have died had the explosion occurred shortly earlier than it did.

For further information on the explosion and subsequent court case, simply click here.

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