Oli company Total liable for giant blast at Buncefield depot

PUBLISHED: 12:56 23 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

A Herts Fire Service picture of the immediate aftermath of the blast

A Herts Fire Service picture of the immediate aftermath of the blast

THE HIGH Court has found oil company Total liable for the Buncefield disaster which means that it could have to pay out more than £750 million in compensation claims. The blast in the early hours of a Sunday morning in December 2005 injured 43 people and

THE HIGH Court has found oil company Total liable for the Buncefield disaster which means that it could have to pay out more than £750 million in compensation claims.

The blast in the early hours of a Sunday morning in December 2005 injured 43 people and caused millions of pounds of damage to homes and businesses.

The explosion was the result of an overspillage of 300 tonnes of petrol from the top of one of the storage tanks at the Hemel Hempstead depot.

Widely thought to be the largest ever explosion in peacetime Europe, it measured 2.4 on the Richter scale and could be heard 125 miles away.

The depot was co-owned by oil companies Total and Chevron - a partnership known as Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited (HOSL).

Total claimed that Chevron should share responsibility for the incident as HOSL was liable, but Judge David Steel ruled only Total could be held responsible because it had been negligent in the running of the site.

He explained that Total had been responsible for implementing safety measures, hiring staff and contractors - an arrangement which meant it must take all the blame.

In a statement Total said it was considering grounds for an appeal.

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