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Oil depot blast triggers airport fuel stores review


HEATHROW AIRPORT offi cials were this week locked in discussions about fuel storage safety following Sunday's oil depot explosion and fire in Hemel Hempstead.

They were re-examining arrangements for storing fuel in 25 tanks at the western end of the airport, close to aircraft stands.

Concerns about the airport's fuel tank farm emerged after an explosion ripped through a huge oil depot close to Hemel Hempstead at 6:03am on Sunday.

It took until Tuesday evening to get the fire under control and initial explosions caused widespread damaged to nearby buildings, shattering windows, ripping off cladding and twisting metal door frames.

The blast is believed by petrochemical experts to have begun in kerosene tanks at the Buncefi eld Oil Depot, which also stores highly flammable aviation fuel.

The incident injured 43 people.

Health and safety engineers agreed that there was no way to prevent the blast wave from such an explosion from damaging nearby structures.

They said it would be almost impossible to surround such depots with walls high enough to protect surrounding areas.

Oil storage tanks are located all over the country. Those at Gatwick and Heathrow airports are close to terminal buildings and stationary aircraft.

A spokeswoman for airport operator BAA said there was no blast protection round the storage tanks at Heathrow.

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