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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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Milford Haven: Man arrested by armed police in Larch Road

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POLICE have arrested a man following a large-scale police operation in Milford Haven.

Several police units were seen searching for a suspect at around 5pm this afternoon (Jun 26).

A police van and several police cars were seen speeding towards the marina and Havens Head Business Park, sirens blaring – but the vehicles turned around when the suspect was not found.

At around 7.30pm police descended on Larch Road, in the Mount Estate and police entered a top floor flat.

Following a period of negotiations, a man was led into a waiting police vehicle.

While the drama was unfolding, dozens of residents of the street were watching from their window, from the street and others were watching from parked cars.

Police kept people back as the detainee was led to the riot van.

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Larch Road: Specialist Officers await man to be brought down from top floor flat (Pic: T Sinclair / Herald)

Mount arrest: A man is led into a police van by armed police (Pic: T Sinclair / Herald)

Large police presence: Armed police units deployed at scene (Pic: T Sinclair / Herald)

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Praise for innovative Pembrokeshire eco scheme

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AN AMBITIOUS project which aims to help communities in Pembrokeshire to become more sustainable has been recognised with an Innovation award.

The Pembrokeshire Eco Champions project was presented with the accolade in Pure West Radio’s ‘Greatest Show Awards’.

Mark Bond, project co-ordinator, said the initiatives delivered by the scheme so far had engaged a real cross-section of local people in some ‘very important conversations linked to the environment’.

“The very nature of our Welsh Government Leader funding (administered by Arwain Sir Benfro) is to encourage innovative and creative ways to engage communities in eco activity, with a major emphasis on waste and recycling,” he said.

“The project has a number of outcomes to deliver but what I inherited was essentially a blank canvas and a great deal of freedom to achieve those outcomes.

“I’ve been allowed to try new and often unusual approaches to reach out to people, so to be recognised for our ‘innovative’ approach is extremely heartening. I’m very proud of my project and very excited about what’s to come.”

The Eco Champions Project is a partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council and PLANED, funded by the Local Action Group (LAG) for Pembrokeshire, Arwain Sir Benfro.

As part of the project, a recruitment drive has been launched for aspiring or active Eco Champions willing to help their local community become more environmentally aware.

Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said it was an exciting initiative.

“The aim is to build and support a network of enthusiastic people who are eager to encourage others to become involved in local waste and recycling initiatives, as well as providing environmental information, organising events and celebrating good practice,” he said.

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Sniffer dog’s presented award by local MP

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IMAGINE a sniffer dog, so good at its job, that a £25K bounty is put on its head! Scamp, a diligent springer spaniel who recovered over £6 million worth of illegal tobacco products in the last 5 years, has been named the Institutes Hero in the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Hero Awards 2019.

Described as a ‘modern-day Eliot Ness’, the seven-year-old owned by specialist detection dog company B.W.Y Canine ltd, has been involved in countless trading standards raids throughout the years. Most recently, his work with trading standards caused such disruption to one organised criminal gang that he had a £25K bounty placed on his head, with his handler Stuart Phillips receiving death threats.

During a recent project between several local authorities, Scamp and B.W.Y Canine helped trading standards seize nearly 430,000 cigarettes and 189kg of hand-rolling tobacco, with a total street value of approximately £137,000. The CTSI Hero Awards celebrate those who make outstanding contributions towards consumer protection in our communities. Scamp and B.W.Y Canine received the award at the CTSI Hero Awards 2019 ceremony at One Great George Street, London, on Tuesday.

After presenting the award to Scamp and Stuart Phillips, Stephen Crabb MP commented: “I was thrilled to present this award to Scamp for the important and diligent detection work he has carried out. Stuart and the whole team at B.W.Y. Canine should be immensely proud of Scamp and what he has done. This goes to show the outstanding work being done by B.W.Y Canine and I look forward to catching up with them in Clunderwen soon.”

Chief Executive at CTSI, Leon Livermore, said: “CTSI received a landslide of nominations for the outstanding work Scamp and B.W.Y Canine have done with trading standards services up and down the country. To keep providing such a service in the face of great personal risk is admirable, and Stuart from B.W.Y Canine, and of course Scamp, deserve our thanks.”

Stuart Phillips from B.W.Y Canine, said: “To be nominated for this award by so many trading standards teams is a great honour, but for Scamp to actually win and be awarded the Institute Hero Award is fantastic news for our small Pembrokeshire based company. The work that Scamp does is of huge importance to tackle the illegal tobacco trade and we both thoroughly enjoy working with trading standards around the UK. Scamp is special dog, with an amazing nose and great work ethic – for him to have his work recognised is superb, he is a true hero.” Scamp and B.W.Y Canine were presented with the award by local MP, Stephen Crabb, and Robert Wright, CTSI College of Fellows, Sponsors of the CTSI Hero Awards.

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