Lessons from Buncefield
“Lessons From Buncefield”. The Wessex Section of the Institute of Measurement and Control organised this lecture at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, on 17th Oct 2012.
The lecture was delivered by Colin Howard. Colin is a Past President of the Institute and was an expert witness to the court during the criminal prosecutions which followed the Buncefield incident. Colin continues to be involved in the developments which have followed the incident.
The evening started with a presentation of a cheque for £310 to Mike Denny of Oakhaven Hospice Trust. The money was raised by a raffle held during the annual Wessex Section Golf Day. Thanks are due to all those who supported this event earlier in the year.
Colin Howard introduced the subject of the Buncefield explosion by reminding us that it was the largest peacetime explosion in the UK, and measured 2.4 on the Richter scale.
Although a very major and notable event there have been other similar incidents around the world. This highlights the importance of learning lessons from incidents in order to continue to reduce risks associated with hazardous material processing and storage.
The point which Colin stressed is the fact that - although individual components might be discussed and their performance subject to scrutiny - it was a whole list of management failures which lead to the explosion. Just of few of the examples cited by Colin follow:-
- Health and Safety focussed on trips slips, and falls. Important no doubt, but the site had other hazards which also needed to be addressed.
- Names of key pieces of equipment were unclear and current documentation was very poor if it could be found at all.
- Competence was assumed rather than specified and checked.
- The contractual relationships between various companies operating on the site and their sub-contractors were unclear; with the individual companies having different understanding of a relationship.
Colin described and explained how a number of both technical and operational details combined to create a highly dangerous situation.
The lecture was enjoyed by all who attended. The Wessex Section Committee would like to thank Colin for giving up his time to deliver the lecture. Additionally we would like to congratulate Colin on the award of the Honorary Fellowship of the Institute at the Institute’s Annual Awards Evening. This prestigious event took place at the Glaziers Hall in London on the 18th October.
Finally the Committee would like to thank Vega Controls; Schneider Electric; MRCTransmark; Hima Sella; Haden Freeman Group and Assentech for their generous support of the event.