Health and safety boss to be quizzed

Gas explosion in Featherstone , West Yorkshire in the U.K.'photo by Marcin Wziontek'+447922835949
Gas explosion in Featherstone , West Yorkshire in the U.K.'photo by Marcin Wziontek'+447922835949

A TOP health and safety boss will be grilled by community watchdogs demanding answers over the explosion which rocked Featherstone last year.

An official from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be quizzed by members of Wakefield Council’s community overview and scrutiny committee on Monday over the storage of potentially dangerous acetylene cylinders at Welburn Transport on Church Lane, where the blast occurred last March.

As reported in the Express earlier this month, committee members hit out at fire bosses who said the blaze – which saw a 300ft fireball shoot into the sky after a 4,500-litre diesel tank exploded – could have been caused by embers from a nearby garden fire setting cardboard boxes alight at the site.

But councillors fear there could be a repeat incident after hundreds of residents had to be evacuated and a 200m exclusion zone set up because acetylene cylinders were stored at the garage.

A report to the committee says: “As there were acetylene cylinders on the premises, residents had to be evacuated. A member of the public connected with the garage told the committee they had contacted the HSE following the incident but had been informed that it was not a ‘reportable incident’.

“This led to a wider discussion around two issues, firstly the kind of incident required to be reported to the HSE and secondly the easy availability of acetylene and the potential danger of cylinders being stored in residential areas.”

Committee member and councillor for Featherstone, Graham Isherwood, said: “If a fire like this isn’t reportable to the HSE and they don’t think any action is needed, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

“This wasn’t just a little fire in the corner of a yard, it was a major explosion. I think the HSE needs to be answering questions. I want to know why an issue like that isn’t reportable when it was quite clearly like an atom bomb going off.”