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Five companies face court over £750m Buncefield explosion

Five firms will today face charges over the Buncefield oil fire in Hertfordshire which caused widespread damage and injured more than 40 people.

The December 2005 explosion, thought to be the largest blast in peacetime Europe, was the result of a spillage of 300 tonnes of petrol from the top of one of the tanks at the site in Hemel Hempstead.

The claims arising from the incident are understood to have totalled more than £750 million.

Total UK, Hertfordshire Oil Storage, British Pipeline Agency, TAV Engineering and Motherwell Control Systems will today face West Hertfordshire Magistrates Court following prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

The agencies - which are jointly responsible for regulating non-nuclear hazardous industrial sites in the UK – announced the criminal proceedings in December following what they described as a “thorough and complex” investigation.

The hearing had originally been scheduled for January but was adjourned.

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