MP demands Bacton blast answers

A Norfolk MP has branded it 'ludicrous' that, a year after an explosion and fire rocked Bacton gas terminal, questions over what happened and why are still unanswered.

A Norfolk MP has branded it 'ludicrous' that, a year after an explosion and fire rocked Bacton gas terminal, questions over what happened and why are still unanswered.

On February 28 last year villagers in the area surrounding the Shell-run part of the site suddenly found their homes shaken by the blast and looked out of their windows to see a column of black smoke towering over the terminal.

But more than a year on, they are no closer to finding out how it happened or how serious it was after it was revealed investigations were still ongoing.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said the long delay suggested the inquiry had not been seen as a priority.


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He said: 'It's a ludicrous situation. Obviously it is very important that an investigation of this sort is robust, but I defy anyone to claim it takes a year. This smacks of them not giving sufficient focus to it and allowing other things to get in the way.'

A spokesman for Shell in Norfolk confirmed its internal investigation had been completed but said it was inappropriate to comment further until inquiries by other agencies had finished.

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In separate statements the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said they were jointly conducting a complex and thorough investigation into the incident.

A HSE spokesman said it hoped it would be completed in early summer and added: 'The investigation has involved a large number of specialist investigators looking into various fields of inquiry, including experts at our laboratory in Buxton recreating the explosion under safe test conditions.'

The Environment Agency said a decision over whether to take enforcement action would be made following the investigation.

Richard Hollis, who owns the Castaways Holiday Park which is next door to the terminal with his wife Anna, said it was time investigators 'got their act together'.

He added: 'I think it's wrong. It should have been done and dealt with by now. Have they put any safeguards in place? Presumably not, because they haven't finished the investigation.'

At the time of the fire, both Shell and villagers said they were pleased with the way the emergency plan had worked. Fire crews from all over the county helped to evacuate 46 people from the terminal and the blaze was put out within two hours.

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