Stockline: inquiry opens into explosion at ICL Plastics factory

United Kingdom

The inquiry into the Stockline disaster began on 1 July 2008. On 28 August 2007 the owner and operator of the ‘Stockline’ factory in Glasgow (which exploded in May 2004, killing nine people and injuring thirty-three) was fined £400,000 after admitting breaches of health and safety legislation. The explosion was caused by a build-up of liquid petroleum gas, which leaked out of corroding pipework installed in 1969. It is thought that this may have then ignited when an employee switched on a light in the basement. In August, the court was told there had been no risk assessment or system for inspecting that stretch of pipework, which was originally above ground but had been buried in 1974. After the explosion, it was estimated that the cost of replacing the pipework would have been just £405.

Some survivors of the blast have expressed the view that the inquiry is unnecessary, as ICL has already admitted to health and safety breaches. However, while the inquiry has no power to determine criminal or civil liability, the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill said that the inquiry would allow the “pursuit of the truth” and added: “It's not at all clear that everything came out at the prosecution…prosecutors were concerned with statutory offences to which the companies pled guilty. Therefore all the prosecution was concerned with were the facts relating to the commission of those offences.”

The first part of the hearing is expected to last for 12 weeks and will focus on the causes of the explosion. The second stage, in October, will run for three weeks and examine the lessons that can be learned.

To read our article on the Stockline prosecution in our Health and Safety Newsletter, Autumn 2007 click here.