Until 22 August 2006, the Buncefield site was under the control of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) whilst the Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) conducted its investigations.
Since August 2006, when the HSE control lifted, we have made significant progress in cleaning-up the site in conditions which are often complex and without precedent. Our priority for all clean up activity is to ensure work is completed safely, to the highest standards and with minimum impact on the environment. Throughout we have worked closely with the Environment Agency (EA) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure they are kept informed of significant developments.
Dismantling of the site
In January 2007, we began to dismantle onsite structures. We are currently on track to have dismantled and removed all the onsite structures by the end of 2007. Our priority is to ensure the work and removal is completed to the highest standards and with minimal disruption to local residents and businesses.
Following the incident, HOSL removed firewater and petroleum products from site. The firewater was securely stored at three offsite locations and is now undergoing extensive treatment so that it can be disposed of safely. Responsibility for the treatment of firewater now lies with the BPA.
The firewater contains PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate - an organic pollutant), a constituent of the fire fighting foam. At the time, there was no known method for removing it from the water, and no official guidance was available. We therefore commissioned independent research into treatment options and ran trials with more than 21 different types of technology to identify the best way of removing the PFOS from water at each location:
- Firewater stored at the Maple Lodge facility underwent the EA-approved treatment of reverse osmosis. Treatment of this firewater has now been completed.
- At two other locations, the firewater continues to be stored safely whilst we agree the best technology for each site. We continue to test and review technologies and all work is being completed with the knowledge of the EA.
The rainwater run-off from Buncefield is now being treated on site. The EA has been involved in development of a treatment process and has fully approved our approach.
As soon as we were able to after the incident, we began monitoring onsite and offsite locations for possible effects to the groundwater. We continue to conduct extensive monitoring and data analysis with the help of independent and accredited laboratories.
The data we have collected suggests the groundwater situation is stable and we are currently assessing the requirement for its treatment. We have shared all our results with the EA and the local water company, and are continuing to monitor, until it is deemed there is no environmental risk.