§ Sir Bernard Braine
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action is being taken to prevent a recurrence of the incident at London and Coastal Oil Wharves on 3rd January, when 50,000 gallons of petrol were spilt through negligence and the fire authority was not alerted until hours after the incident; whether he is satisfied that this installation which lies close to other industrial fire hazards and the homes of 32,000 people is properly conducted; and whether he is satisfied that the present level of fines for offences of this kind is adequate.
§ Mr. John Grant
The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that a thorough investigation of the incident was carried out by inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive and fire officers of Essex County Council which is the licensing authority under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928. After consideration of the circumstances of the incident, legal proceedings were taken by the county council against the firm on 16th February 1977 at Southend-on-Sea Magistrates' Court. A fine of £700 was imposed for two breaches of the conditions of the petroleum spirit licence. Offences against the provisions of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 are subject to the penalties of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and, in this case, the fines were very close to the maximum allowable, which is £400 for each offence.
I am assured that the procedures for the discharge of tankers at the site have been tightened up as a result of the incident. Inspectors of the HSE and the 742W fire authority are to meet the firm to advise on additional safeguards for ensuring the integrity of the plant.
The storage of flammable liquids on this site is also being considered in the context of the Canvey Island/Thurrock investigation which is at present being carried out by the Health and Safety Executive.
The firm is required to comply with both the conditions of the petroleum spirit licence issued by the county council and the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.