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Valero fined £5m over 2011 oil refinery explosion

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TWO companies have been ordered to pay more than £6 million following an explosion at Pembroke oil refinery that killed four people.

Julie Jones, Dennis Riley, Robert Broome and Andrew Jenkins all died in the blast in June 2011.

A fifth man, Andrew Phillips, survived the blast but suffered life-changing injuries, after being “surrounded in flames”.

The explosion happened when flammable gases inside an oil storage tank ignited.

Valero Energy UK Ltd and B&A Contracts admitted health and safety charges in October last year and sentencing was deferred first to April of this year and subsequently to yesterday (Thursday, Jun 5).

At the time of the explosion, in 2011, the refinery was operated by Chevron. However, a deal had already been struck to transfer ownership to Valero Energy UK.

Valero Energy was indicted as successor in ownership to Chevron, even though it had no control over the site at the time of the incident.

That means that while Valero Energy UK Ltd was fined £5 million and ordered to pay £1 million in legal costs, its penalty will be paid by Chevron as part of the deal made before the ownership of the refinery switched to Valero shortly after the 2011 tragedy.

Specialist tank cleaning firm B&A Contracts was fined £120,000 ordered to pay £40,000 in legal costs.

Chevron had mistakenly classified areas within the tank at the time as “non-hazardous” when they should have been listed as the most dangerous.

The workers were trying to “pump out residue in the tank”, which contained a mix of amine and diesel when the flammable atmosphere ignited.

Experts believe flammable fumes could have been ignited by static from a hose being lowered into the container by the workers, or by incoming air mixing with pyrophoric substances which can “ignite spontaneously on exposure to air”.

Had Chevron adequately assessed the conditions and risks, a different procedure would have been adopted. The failure in its processes led directly to the explosion and workers’ tragic fates.

Chevron has previously apologised to the families of those killed in the blast.

In a statement, the company offered “deepest regrets” and “sincere apologies” for failing to do “what should have been done” to prevent the explosion and subsequent loss of life and injuries.

Video of explosion (From BBC Wales)

TV news coverage at the time (from ITV Wales archive)

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New Eco Feature For Haverfordwest

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Plans have been submitted for a ‘living green wall’ to be planted in the centre of Haverfordwest in a bid to enhance local biodiversity and wildlife.

The green wall would be situated alongside the river opposite Glan-yr-Afon, the town’s library and cultural centre, and planted with 25 species of native plants including ferns, grasses, flowers and wild herbs including basil, sage and clary.

As well as providing an important habitat for pollinators, the wall would also be an attractive natural feature in its own right, says Sara Morris, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Development Plans and Conservation Manager.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to re-introduce nature in the heart of Haverfordwest,” she said. “As with all planting, it will take some time for the plants to grow and flourish but given time it will look very attractive.”

The maintenance of the wall, which is scheduled for installation towards the end of October, would be carried out by a team of volunteers. New benches made from Welsh slate would also be installed to encourage residents and visitors to enjoy spending time in the area.

The green wall is part of the Cleddau Reaches partnership project which forms one of the priorities in the Haverfordwest Regeneration framework.

The Cleddau Reaches partners are Pembrokeshire County Council, the Bridge Meadow Trust, Haverfordwest Town Council, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Haverfordwest Kayak Club.

Pembrokeshire College and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority have also supported the project.

The aim is to improve and enhance the rights of way network in and around Haverfordwest and in particular, around the Western Cleddau, through several different inter-linked schemes.

Grant funding of approximately £250,000 has been provided by the NRW, Haverfordwest Town Council and the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, says the project’s focus on the river follows recognition that for too long, it has been an under-utilised resource despite being one of the town’s key natural assets.

“The Cleddau Reaches project brings together many ideas which the community has put forward over the last 20 years,” he said.

“As well as boosting biodiversity, the project forms part of the wider package of investments we are bringing forward to support Haverfordwest Town Centre.

“This administration is determined to revive the fortunes of the County Town, transforming Haverfordwest Town Centre from a traditional retail centre that’s being left behind into a vibrant leisure destination where residents and visitors alike want to spend their time.”

Some of the work currently taking place as part of the Cleddau Reaches project includes new riverbank paths near the Bridge Meadow with plans to create a new footbridge connecting to the Old Mill Grounds.

Other plans include creating habitats for sand-martins, otters and lampreys upriver, creating a trail linking up with the Town Council’s Priory Saltings project, and installing five interpretation boards along the route describing the flora, fauna and history of the local area.

The green wall planning application is currently registered with Pembrokeshire County Council for determination.

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Homes in Pembrokeshire can get free boilers and insulation

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PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD is teaming up with Blackburn based company Euro Insulation, who are working on a Pembrokeshire County Council backed energy scheme called the ECO: Help to Heat programme.

The scheme intends to utilise government funding for the reduction of fuel poverty within the county.

The council says that it has worked for many years to improve homes locally, and is keen for as many households to sign up as possible.

The local authority is working with ECO energy installers.

Funding is only available for private owner occupiers and private rented tenants. Qualification of flexible eligibility in Pembrokeshire will be determined by certain criteria.

Grants are available to a range of households including those with someone aged over 60, with a child under 5, and homes with children in primary or secondary school, or with a pregnant mother.

The Pembrokeshire Herald is letting as many homeowners know as possible about the scheme and has a call centre open to take queries on behalf of Euro Insulation who will be doing the work.

The aim is to reduce C02 emissions and make homes more energy efficient in Wales.

They are with the Welsh Assembly Government to show homeowners how they can get a brand-new boiler, internal wall insulation and room-in-roof insulation

The funding is only available until December.

To be considered for a FREE boiler or INSULATION call our call centre on 01437 70 70 70

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Fishguard: Armed police presence at Fishguard port

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ARMED officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were on scene at the port in Fishguard this morning (Sept 18).

Border Force and the RNLI were involved in the operation, which reportedly involved a vessel being escorted into the harbour.

Details of the incident are still unfolding, and the police have been contacted for a statement.

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