Three firms were found guilty over the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion three years ago as the BBC reported today - Buncefield.
At the time I wrote a blog about the events, which is as relevant today.
I was watching the pictures, of the effects of the explosion, at the oil storage facility, in Henel Hempstead, today, like many other people. I don't know the area, where the storage depot was, but I guess its not a leafy, middle class suburb. I know, from having sat on a Planning Committee, that whenever applications, for anything that might be environmentally hazardhous, dirty or unsightly, comes along a strange red (or probably blue) mist seems to cloud the vision of planning officers and Councillors alike.
Whenever an application for something like this is submitted, for some area out in the country, planning officers reel out all the objections to spoiling the countryside, Tory Councillors, who are often elected from these areas by a few voters and some sheep, of course, are outraged that their constituents should have to come into contact with anything so working class, and Labour politicians, even if for the best environmentalist reasons, dislike the idea of despoiling the Green Belt too. Yet, despite the fact that, often, for facilities such as this oil storage depot, out in the wilds is the best place for them, where they pose little risk to anyone, the same planners and politicians have no qualms about siting dangerous facilities in the midst of, or at least close to, working class areas, where, presumably, they think people already have a completely shitty environement so shitting it up a bit more won't matter. The same is true about the Government's policies for cramming even more houses or businesses on to inner city, brown field sites, when, in fact, what needs to happen, to these sites, is for them to be greened up, to provide a better environement for people stuck inside built up towns and cities, to give kids somewhere to play, and to provide a "green lung" to improve air quality.
Its not even a matter of people being given a backhander by the firms that want to site these facilities in working class areas, its more a matter that the idea that workers can be shat on from a great height is taken for granted. The companies often have economic reasons for wanting to site them in these areas (e.g. because they are close to customers) as well as knowing they are more likely to get approval for an application there than in the countryside (because especially in run down working class areas, where residents have little history of organising and standing up for themselves, they will not put up a fight, whereas, out in the country, the middle class residents will, and the local Tory candidate will give the directors grief), and planning officers go along for many of the same reasons (plus they are more likely to live in the leafy suburbs than on a run down estate).
Workers should not count on any of these people having a change of heart. They have to organise on the etsates through their own organisations to oppose such developments through direct action if (as it usually is)necessary. They need to make links with the Trade Unions in the firms involved to gain support, to link up the concerns of workers in these industries over Health and Safety with their own concerns in that regard.