Four killed in oil refinery blast in south Wales
Published 03/06/2011 | 08:07
An oil refinery blast in which four people were killed appears to have been a "tragic industrial accident", police in Wales said today.
The blast at Chevron Refinery, Pembroke Dock, south Wales shook the surrounding area around 6.20pm last night.
Chief Superintendent Gwyn Thomas of Dyfed Powys police said his officers were informing the relatives of the workers who died.
He said: "Paramedics have confirmed that four people lost their lives as a result of the incident.
"Officers are now in the processes of informing the next of kin and will support the families throughout this difficult time. Our thoughts are now with the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased."
The fire was caused by an explosion in a 730 cubic metre storage tank, which then caused damage to an adjacent tank.
Chief Supt Thomas added: "A police investigation is now under way, with the Health and Safety Executive, and early indications show that this was a tragic industrial incident.
"Police officers have secured the scene and colleagues from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue are working to make the site safe to enable a multi agency investigation into the cause of the explosion to commence."
Fire crews from around the area were called to the site of the explosion along with paramedics.
Local people reported hearing the explosion and seeing a plume of black smoke.
Marcus Lutwyche, owner of a shop in the village of Angle, told Walesonline: "I ran to the front and saw a huge plume of smoke. It was black and filled the sky. It must have been 50 or so metres wide."
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies said any debris thrown into the air did not pose a health risk to members of the public.
"We can confirm that any material released into the atmosphere as a result of the blast were immediately dispersed. The wind was blowing off shore, away from residential areas. Members of the public can be reassured that there is no ongoing risk to health as a result of the incident."
Earlier this year the sale of the refinery, which is one of the largest in western Europe and employs 1,400 people, was secured.
Valero agreed to buy the refinery site for $730m (€508m) and another $1bn (€700m) for assets including Chevron's petrol stations in the UK and Ireland.
Chevron confirmed that the four people who died were contractors and said another worker was receiving treatment in hospital for serious injuries.
Greg Hanggi, refinery general manager, said: "This news is utterly devastating. The loss of our co-workers has come as a huge shock to us all.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to their families. We will ensure that all employees and contractors are fully supported throughout this difficult time."
He added: "We will take every step possible to determine the series of events that led to this tragic incident and ensure that any lessons learnt from it will be integrated into the business and shared with our industry partners.
"I would like to thank all the on-site responders and emergency service personnel for the dedication and professionalism they showed throughout this incident."