Saturday, 24 December 2005

Buncefield Oil Depot Explosion

The recent explosion at the Buncefield depot in Hemel Hempstead came as quite a shock to me. I live close by and travel around the adjacent lanes at least twice a week. I travelled along the lane between the oil depot and the industrial estate 18 hours before the explosion, and my children were with me. The devastion to nearby buildings is quite scary. I once worked in one of the nearby buildings now destroyed, and
I join with all those who are thankful the incident occurred at a time when very few people were working in the area.

I have read that for an explosion to occur - that was alledgedly heard 100 miles away ; registered 2.4 on the Richter scale. - something very unusual must have occurred. Petrol does not just explode. This is a finished product, not a refinery where complex oil cracking procedures are in place. Ignite, yes. Exploding is different. I read that the oil storage tanks have floating roofs and maybe the system failed somehow, causing a build up of a vapour cloud. Certainly the Fuji Film security guard had said that just prior to explosion he was looking for the source of a fumes he could smell.

I feel sorry for the tanker driver who thinks that turning an ignition key off caused the spark. The incident occurred at just after 6a.m. - that's the time central heating comes on in many homes, so maybe a gas boiler firing up in one of the nearby homes was the trigger?

The oil depot was located where it is because that is where a buried supply pipe comes in. The depot was there long before the nearest industrial buildings were proposed and built. People will not tolerate the possibility of a repeat incident. A new site has to found, and not too far away. Petrol tankers are currently been diverted in from Birmingham, Northampton, and even Hull to fill the void that the out of action depot in Hemel Hempstead has caused. As I write there are shortages of some grades at petrol stations in the Hemel Hempstead area. Transporting this fuel by road for longer distances must be costing the companies a small fortune. And it is also an extra risk that it is being transported by road.

So, in my view, a new site somewhere along the route of the pipeline has to be found. To continue at Buncefield would be too scary for local people, whatever new failsafe devices are dreamt up to prevent a reoccurence. The authorities need to get a new site and not waste time thinking about how they would make Buncefield any safer. It needs to be sited perhaps a mile from other buildings, and preferably well shielded by natural formations (or even unnatural formations). On a global scale, all oil depots will have to be reconsidered for siting, in much the same way that an aircraft accident investigation would recommend for their whole industry.


Some Pictures Here

Business Affected

Northgate Information Solutions - building wrecked. Hosted several websites

FUJIFILM Electronic Imaging Ltd - building wrecked

Supplies electronic pre-press equipment and software open imaging systems.

buncefiled buncfield hemel fire expolsion oil deopt
Jobs threatened

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Round Robin written 26 April 2005

Well, This has been hanging around awhile so I had better write something and pass it on before I am in the dog house.

Uummm, where to start?

Your letters. 

Michael, thank you for writing. I had to read it to Melissa I am afraid, because she couldn’t. Please use neater writing. You have been busy. I am still thinking about decorating, although I did wallpaper the kitchen last, I can’t remember how long ago it was. Ben seems to be very unsettled, but, hey never mind, he probably earns more than me. Shane is you life problem. Don’t know. I shake my head. Linda’s having an op some time – great, I suppose. Good luck with it.

Graham, I can’t see a letter from you, so I guess you dipped out. Mum, your letter told me all I knew apart from some views. I suggest we start a blog online, and add to it as we feel. Michael will have to invest in a pc and we’ll just email him with the URL so he can type his bit in and add it to the scroll – at least we’ll be able to read it.

If I have had any news you  already had it by email, but here’s a bit for Michael to read  in 2 months time when it gets round to him.


I use Mozilla Firefox web browser at work (unofficially) and at home (officially). It’s far superior to Microsoft Internet Explorer, has loads of  extensions and is a pleasure to work with. My current extensions at home are Addblock, Tabbrowser, Stumble Upon, ColorZilla, Html Validator, ViewSourceWith, AutoCopy, Autofill, CuteMenus, Hotmail Tabs, Image Zoom, Resize Search Box, Show Image, Translate, DragtoTab, MileWideBAck, SessionSaver, Pong, and Wizz RSS News Reader, and I use the Walnut for Firefox Theme.


I turned a tidy little sum in for the past 4 months online trading, mainly due to the success of – I recently added an RSS feed to the site, along with forms for people to fill in for onward mailing to the advertising employers. I have not had any success from as yet, although a small number of people have asked to stay at the resort in Malta for free. has had a small income from advertising affliates, and from people trying to sell or rent their timeshares.
All this is fairly time consuming, checking emails, tweaking web pages, uploading advertising from my customers.

For a laugh, I bought and – only US4.97 a year each.


NTL recently upped their Broadband access terms. Originally I was on 100kb broadband. This was upped to 300kb last year, but has now been upped to 1MB, all for £17.99 a month. At least it pays its way.


I made contact with Dave Harris, and had a boozey night out in London, catching up with him. I worked at BP with him for the last 7 to 8 years. He gave up travelling to work 2 years ago and now helps his wife sell candles from – turnover £30,000 per month he reckons.


No – sorry, that was a joke.


Melissa is writing a play starring herself and her friends. She’s planning to do costumes and scenery as well.
Both had good reports recently from school. Robert seems to be struggling a bit concentrating on his reading.
Brownies were out in force in Hemel Hempstead on Sunday just gone, including Melissa. They held a service in the open air in Gadebridge Park, then trooped out of the park onto Marlowes, and moved down to the civic centre. Hardly a parade at all. My camera didn’t go off properly, so I never got any pictures of her in this event.