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Sussex blast triggers call to review regs

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REGULATIONS FOR storing hazardous materials must be urgently reviewed following Sunday's fireworks depot explosion in East Sussex, engineers said this week.

Accident investigators must also review the licensing arrangements for such depots, said one engineer. The site was inspected just six weeks before the disaster.

The fire and subsequent explosions killed two firemen and injured 12 people on an industrial estate near Lewes.

Fire broke out at approximately 2.20pm on Sunday leading to an explosion one hour later that was heard 8km away. It was this blast that killed the two firemen.

One always needs to learn from a catastrophe, ' said Standing Committee for Structural Safety secretary John Carpenter.

'I would like to think the several parties involved, the police, the fire brigade and the HSE [Health and Safety Executive] will review the adequacies of the current regulations, ' he said.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) said it had licensed the site because it held more than two tonnes of explosives.

But he was unable to specify what the license conditions were, adding only that a routine inspection six weeks ago had not identified problems and that no improvement writ was served.

He made it clear that the serving of a writ was at the discretion of the inspector, who is the same inspector now carrying out the investigation.

Carpenter pointed out that the Health & Safety at Work Act obliges the company to self inspect and put in measures to prevent this kind of incident.

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