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Posted on 7 July 2010 at 12:04 GMT

Lindsey refinery fire death: inquiry needed

Tragically, a 24 year old pipefitter was killed in a fire and explosion at Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR) near Immingham, South Humberside, on 29 June. Two other co-workers suffered minor injuries.
Alistair Tice

It appears that a leaking pipe caught fire and exploded near to the recently installed distillation unit.

Black smoke could be seen as far away as Hull. The next day, workers walked out in respect of their fallen comrade as is the norm in the engineering construction industry.

But then asbestos was discovered by health and safety investigators in and around the area where the fire broke out so 250 workers were sent home until further notice.

LOR, owned by Total, is the third largest refinery in the UK, and was at the centre of unofficial strikes for jobs that swept the industry last year, in which fears about health and safety were a major concern.

The industry workers' website Bearfacts suggests that this incident shows that the lessons of other major disasters such as Flixborough in 1974, Piper Alpha in 1988 and Buncefield in 2005 appear to have been ignored again.

Trade unions have called for an independent inquiry into this explosion and re-investment in the LOR site, parts of which are now over 40 years old.

Such investment by Total is unlikely though as there is global overcapacity in oil refinery. Instead industry trade unions should campaign against the sub-contracting system, for workers' control over health and safety and nationalisation of the oil and construction industries.

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