Along with a number of other companies, Guildford-based firm TAV Engineering have been charged over their role in the explosions at Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire five years ago.
The cause of the Buncefield incident – which caused 40 people to be injured and numerous homes and businesses to be evacuated and damaged – was found to be a pipe leaking over 250,000 litres of petrol. This created a large vapour cloud, which caused an explosion measuring 2.4 on the Richter scale when it ignited.
TAV was charged in a joint action by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA) for negligence, resulting in a risk to the lives of members of the public. The company was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, failing to protect both workers and members of the public from harm.
TAV and the other companies named in the action are now facing substantial fines; it is assumed that the firms will have some level of professional insurance cover in place to protect their assets.
Although pollution and environmental damage (other charges put before the defendants over the Buncefield incident) are not usually covered in professional indemnity insurance policies, it is a legal requirement to have a minimum level of employers’ liability cover in place.