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Four dead in ‘time bomb’ refinery blast

Issue No. 2255

Former workers at the Chevron oil refinery in Pembroke, South Wales, have described the plant as a “time bomb” after a blast killed four workers and seriously hurt a fifth last week.

The refinery has a long history of accidents that have left dozens of workers with injuries.

Tony Spicer, a retired welder at Chevron, said that it was “inevitable” that lives would be lost at the refinery—and that this could not always be explained as “human error”.

The Chevron refinery is one of the largest in western Europe.

It’s big money. And many say that profits have come before safety.

But it seems that some people disagree.

Pembrokeshire council leader John Davies claimed that the Chevron plant had “a truly remarkable and exceptional record of safety”.

Tory MP Simon Hart talked of the plant’s “fantastic safety record,” before adding, “I don’t think we should go around dishing out blame until the investigation is over.”

The message to workers was clear—it’s acceptable to put your lives at risk if there are profits to be made.

But workers at the nearby npower power station were clearly not impressed by such talk and stopped work as a mark of respect.

Even here, bosses didn’t allow the refinery deaths to interfere with profit too much—the station was back up and running within 24 hours.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will investigate the blast. But the Tories want to slash funding for the HSE—which will make it harder to expose the truth of workplace accidents and protect workers in the future.

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Tue 7 Jun 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2255
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