Tom Keighley

Member Article

Dairy firm ordered to pay £56,000 following explosion

National dairy firm, First Milk Cheese Company Ltd, has been ordered to pay more than £56,000 following an explosion at its Cumbria cheese factory.

First Milk was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found blockages had caused the blast in 2010 at the boiler house at Aspatria Creamery.

No one was injured in the incident, despite the explosion causing the rook to lift off the building, and throwing debris more than 100m across the site.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard that maintenance engineers had been manually controlling the steam supply valve on a piece of equipment, after the automatic control broke down.

Pressure inside the tank had continued to rise, reaching almost 150 degrees celsius, before the explosion happened.

The Wrexham-based firm pleaded guilty to a breach of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 200, by failing to ensure the vent pipe on the equipment was kept clear.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Michael Griffiths said: “It is extremely fortunate that no one was seriously injured or even killed in the explosion, which was powerful enough to destroy part of the boiler house.

“The vent pipe on the storage tank played a vital role in ensuring the calorifier could run safely, but the company had failed to ensure that this pipe was kept clear.

“This ultimately led to the explosion after the tank could not cope with the increase in pressure when the temperature of the water reached almost 150 degree Celsius.

“I hope this prosecution will act as a warning to any other company that uses hot water and steam systems to make sure they are properly maintained so that incidents like this don’t happen in the future.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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