People living near site of toxic explosion concerned study may never be published

Many factories store “normal chemicals” on site which need to be stored and segregated appropriately to minimise the effects of dispersion during an explosion event.

These need serious consideration in their risk assessment, especially allowing these factories near domestic areas. Co-ordination with local services so that prompt action can be taken in the event of an incident.


In my paper on “Establishing a Basis of Safety in Industry” recently at the MHEA BulkEx conference I stated that

My presentation is based on 7 elements Materials, Equipment, Procedures, Humans, Acceptable Risk, Deviations, Prevention & Protection.

Whenever possible, the employer should prevent the occurrence of explosive atmospheres.

The User must establish a Basis of Safety through an explosive atmospheres assessment process.

This must always relate to the individual case and cannot be generalised, especially the scale of the anticipated effects.

The specific considerations according to the ATEX directive are the likelihood and duration of the occurrence of a hazardous explosive atmosphere, the likelihood that ignition sources will be present and become active and effective, the installations, substances used, processes, and their possible interactions.


Please consider storing hazardous product away from the main operation centres in your plant and/ or separate them into multiple units – for business continuity.

Avoid the need for personnel to go in close to the incident, due to concerns about Asphyxiation/intoxication from off-gassing

Personnel protection – simply consider are there enough air bottles for SCBA; some silos fires go for weeks!

Where is it feasible to dump the whole contents of e.g. very large silo fires?

Dissemination of your site hazards to the wider community- like the local council; especially the fire services.


Story below:


Drums of low-level radioactive waste were found at CSG after the fire. Credit: ITV West Country

People living near the site of an explosion in Gloucester that sent toxic gases over their homes say they are concerned a long-term health study may never be published.

The blast happened at the CSG waste processing plant in Sandhurst 17 years ago.

The company was prosecuted and fined.

CSG has since sold the site, but those left behind say their health has been affected and fear nothing will come of the investigation.

The blast happened at the CSG waste processing plant in Sandhurst 17 years ago. Credit: ITV West Country

Jayne Overthrow who used to live in Sandhurst told ITV she blames the fumes for her husband’s death from cancer.

Other members of the local community claim they have fallen victim to the long term effects of inhaling the toxic fumes which poured out of the site during the fire.

Rachael Hyde remembers walking her dog with her late husband 17 years ago, the day after the fire.

There was a very strange smell and it caught the back of your throat. It was a very unpleasant feeling. We just thought we were getting a cold or something, but in actual fact it turned out to be – we think – this explosion. My husband of the time, he died of oesophageal cancer, and I got thyroid papillary cancer.


The type of cancer Rachael had can be associated with exposure to radiation.

They actually asked me and also separately asked my daughter if I had ever worked in the radiation industry, which I hadn’t.

The fire sent a cloud of smoke into the surrounding areas. Credit: ITV West Country

Two drums of low-level radioactive waste were found at the CSG site after the fire.

It is not known if other drums were destroyed by the fire.

Tests were carried out and no evidence of radioactive contamination were discovered.

Concerns have led to a 20-year study into any possible long-term health effects from the fumes.

ITV News has discovered there were plans to close down the study early.

An e-mail from Gloucestershire County Council’s Public Health department sent two years ago says:

“The research team and ourselves are considering winding down and stopping the study. There are escalating demands for time and resources and there has been no adverse effect detected so far. There are other calls on how we use our resources of time and money. We would like to sound out how local people feel.”

Mike Moorhead runs the Sandhurst Action Group which has campaigned for villagers’ health to be monitored.

He says despite reassurances the study may be being stalled.

I think we’re in the long grass now, fighting to get out of it. We need to be back on the fairway, we need to have a meeting every two years. But we most certainly need to analyze the data and much more importantly examine how it has been analyzed.


CSG says in a statement:

CGS has always acknowledged its profound regret and sadness for the distress and inconvenience caused to local residents by the incident which happened 17 years ago.


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