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Essar Oil UK fined over a million pounds for explosion at Stanlow Refinery

Stanlow oil refinery, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire Credit: PA

Essar Oil UK has been fined #1.65 million after an explosion at its Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port.

There were no injuries at the incident in Cheshire, but the blast in the early hours of November 14 2013 caused internal structures to collapse, causing damage worth more than £20 million, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Problems started at the site during the start-up of its main distillation unit, when extremely flammable hydrocarbons were allowed to enter an unignited furnace.

The heat from another furnace nearby triggered the explosion which destroyed the furnace, starting a number of fires that the fire service had to bring under control.

The incident was reported to the European Union as a major accident under schedule 7 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Essar Oil UK Ltd failed to take all measures necessary to prevent or mitigate a major accident.

Some of the failings it identified were that a safety critical valve was ordered and installed incorrectly and Essar failed to correctly validate its operation.

The company was also found to have failed to adequately assess the installation of a new safety critical trip as they failed to recognise the system had a by-pass line which defeated the trip's operation.

The HSE found that Essar's policy was to isolate main fuel lines to the furnace however, the hydrocarbons entered the furnace via a secondary fuel line which had not been isolated when shut down.

Essar Oil (UK) Ltd of the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex, Ellesmere Port, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Major Hazards Regulations 1999 and was fined £1,650,000 with costs of £57,644.80.

"We made clear to the courts from the outset that we accepted responsibility for the incident.

"We take this matter very seriously. Following the incident in November 2013, measures were put in place to ensure it could not happen again.

"No one at Stanlow was hurt and there were no effects on the general public off-site."

– Essar spokesman

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Hundreds of Vodafone jobs heading to Wythenshawe

Telecoms giant Vodafone is to create 800 jobs in Manchester under its biggest employment expansion for years.

Vodafone has around 12,500 employees in the UK. Credit: Press Association

The company says it's growing it's customer services hub in Wythenshawe.

They have described the investment as a boost to the "Northern Powerhouse" vision.

Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said:

These new, skilled roles will make a real difference to our customers and a real difference to the communities that are the focus of our customer services investment. Our ambition is to give our customers the best experience possible, providing an outstanding level of service and support as we continue to invest in building the biggest and best network in Britain.

– NICK JEFFERY, VODAFONE UK CHIEF EXECUTIVE

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Licence application refused for South Lakes Zoo

South Lakes Zoo Credit: PA

Councillors have refused a licence application for a zoo where almost 500 animals died within four years.

Zoo founder David Gill applied to renew his licence for the South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The application was refused by Barrow Borough Council's licensing regulatory committee at a meeting on Monday and Mr Gill now has 28 days to lodge an appeal.

Chairman of the committee Tony Callister said the decision had been unanimous and was made because councillors were not satisfied conservation matters referred to in the Zoo Licensing Act would be implemented.

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