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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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Broad Haven: Car overturns in wet weather on B4341

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A CAR overturned in the wet weather on the B4341 Haverfordwest to Broad Haven road on Friday evening (Jul 3).

First on the scene, local Stephen Hughes told The Herald: “I was driving along and noticed a car had overturned on the Broad Haven Road past the left turning for Tiers Cross. I stopped and checked to see if everyone as okay.

“No one was injured, and I stayed until the police arrived.”

Police directed traffic and assisted with the recovery of the vehicle.

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County Hall in NHS blue lights tribute

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COUNTY HALL in Haverfordwest was lit in blue last night (Friday, 3rd July) and will be again tonight and tomorrow night as a tribute to NHS workers and social care staff throughout the country.

The illumination also marks the 72nd anniversary of the NHS on Sunday.

Said Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, Dr Simon Hancock: “We owe these workers a great debt which will never be fully repaid and this gesture by the Council is richly deserved.”

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Cllr Beynon suspended as school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL said that they are unable to comment on the suspension of a Pembroke Dock councillor as a school governor.

Cllr Beynon confirmed that he has been suspended as a school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur.

“I’m looking forward until when the ombudsman throws out the complaints,” Cllr Beynon said.

Paul Dowson, a fellow Pembroke Dock councillor, recently resigned from the board of school governors of Ysgol Harri Tudur.

Cllr Dowson said after he resigned: “I feel a recent smear campaign reflects badly on the school even though its untrue.”

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