'the Buncefield Aftermath' - Restoring Stability after a Crisis
Jeremy Evans, Director, JECCS Commercial Consultancy Services Limited, UK
Shortly after 6.00am on Sunday 11th December 2005, a series of massive explosions occurred at the Buncefield Oil Depot, near Hemel Hempstead in the UK. The resulting fire was reported as being the largest in peacetime Europe. Shock waves from the explosions, which measured 2.4 on the Richter scale, were reported to be felt up to forty miles away – and even further according to some accounts.
One of the immediate concerns was whether or not the disaster was a consequence of another terrorist attack, coming – as it did – less than six months after the 7/7 bombings and 21/7 attempted bombings in Central London. This, however, turned out not to be the case. Instead, the explosions and subsequent fire were attributable to negligence, being caused by an ignition spark from an oil tanker lighting a petrol vapour cloud, which itself was the product of petrol overflowing from one of the giant containers at the Depot. While there was no loss of life, the resulting fireball nevertheless left a trail of devastation in its wake destroying surrounding business premises and private homes alike and causing injuries to local residents and other people who had the misfortune to be in the vicinity of the disaster scene at the time.
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