Peter Lilley and Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning met John Prescott this Monday to urge him to hold an independent, open and speedy inquiry into the Buncefield fire. Afterwards Peter Lilley said, “there should be no question of automatically rebuilding the Buncefield terminal; an independent enquiry into the causes of the explosion and future safety of the terminal is essential before the issue of rebuilding can be addressed.?
Peter met residents from Lilley Lane after they returned to supervise repairs to their homes and has been in contact with various constituents who suffered from the blast.
“Having seen the damage caused by the explosion at first hand I am amazed that no lives were lost. The immediate concerns of people who live nearby is the repairing of their homes, settling insurance claims, and obtaining compensation. I will do all that I can to help with this and am urging Total and Texaco to accept responsibility for the trauma and loss of property value experienced by those living closest to the terminal.
When John Prescott made a statement in the House of Commons on the Monday following the blast I raised these issues with him. (Note to editor, see text below)
In the longer term their concern will be whether or not the terminal will be rebuilt. A full enquiry must be established to examine the events leading up to the explosion. Until this is completed the Buncefield terminal cannot be reopened.?
Note to ed. Attached is a photo of Peter visiting the home of a constituent to inspect the damage done by the blast. (Do we know the names for these people Peter?)
Text of question from Peter Lilley and answer provided by John Prescott.
(Mr Peter Lilley: As my constituency borders the Buncefield storage depot, may I endorse, and associate my constituents and myself with, the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) and the Deputy Prime Minister, in which they expressed gratitude and praise for the emergency services for their exemplary courage, dedication and commitment over the past 30 hours? I visited the burning oil fields in Kuwait and never expected to see an equally terrifying inferno so close to a built-up area on the doorstep of my constituency.
May I raise two points that my constituents have put to me that have not been mentioned so far? There is a fear that the partly burned fuel might generate carcinogenic chemicals, so will the Deputy Prime Minister confirm that that is not the case? Constituents whose homes have been damaged need to know as soon as possible whether they will be able to claim for those damages from the owners of the depot, or their insurance policies. I end by expressing my gratitude to the Deputy Prime Minister for the action that he has taken in response to these events.
The Deputy Prime Minister: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks and for indicating that our emergency forces acted with exemplary courage. They certainly played their part with tremendous dedication in what he rightly called an inferno. The chief fire officer told me yesterday that he had never seen anything on such a scale. We are dealing with a situation on a scale that is quite unique in Europe. Indeed, we are in uncharted waters with the problems that come from the chemicals produced by burning oil and petrol, and it is thus difficult for me to give proper answers to such questions. I am advised that the chemicals are not toxic, but let us wait and see. Discussions are going on at the moment and investigations are under way. When we have further information, we will report to the House as soon as possible.
The insurance companies have made it clear that any claims for damage to homes will be properly entertained. However, if we find that there are any difficulties, which is sometimes the case when such terrible and tragic incidents occur, the Government can play a part in encouraging parties to come together so that people are properly compensated. The right hon. Gentleman can be sure that we will do all that we can to ensure that that happens.)