News item

Petrol explosion case

A petrol station and the owner of a neighbouring taxi firm have both been fined after the death of two people, killed in an explosion caused by the improper handling of petrol.

Immingham Service Station Ltd and the owner of Fred’s Taxis, Anthony John Barker, were sentenced at Grimsby Crown Court on Monday February 22.

Their appearance followed an explosion at Fred’s Taxis on Christmas Eve of 2007, when Barker purchased nearly 25 litres of petrol from the service station. Barker used an unapproved plastic container to purchase the fuel, and then carried it into an office which also contained a gas heater and electrical appliances. The container broke, allowing the petrol to spill and ignite. The resulting explosion killed two employees of the taxi firm - one of whom was Barker’s wife.

Following an investigation by North East Lincolnshire Council, Barker admitted two counts of breaching the Health And Safety At Work Act: one of which was brought for failing to protect his employees in relation to petroleum storage, the other for failing to protect the public. For these offences, Barker was fined a total of £2,000, and must also pay £400 in costs.

Immingham Service Station Ltd admitted an offence of breaching a condition of its Petroleum Spirit licence, by dispensing the fuel into an unapproved container. The firm was fined £6,000 and was ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.

John Seale, head of public protection at the council, said: ‘Following this tragic accident, Trading Standards and health and safety teams have worked hard together to raise public awareness about the dangers of petrol and have been promoting the safe storage, handling and dispensing of petroleum. We hope that the conclusion of this case will once again serve as a reminder to the public and the retail industry of the importance of adhering to health and safety legislation.’