Explosives: Transport

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 7th June 2007.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance was offered by the Government to the fire authorities in England and Wales following the explosion on 22 March 1989 involving a vehicle carrying explosives on the Fengate Industrial Estate in Cambridgeshire; and whether that guidance has since been (a) amended, (b) added to and (c) withdrawn by her Department.

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

holding answer 4 June 2007

Following the explosion on 22 March 1989 involving a vehicle carrying explosives on the Fengate Industrial Estate in Cambridgeshire, the Home Office issued the Chief Officer Letter 4/1989 on 25 May 1989, covering Road Traffic (Carriage and Explosives) regulations 1989. The regulation required vehicles carrying explosives to be marked front and rear with an orange rectangle and on the sides with an orange diamond carrying in black the classification division and the compatibility group and some cases the explosives symbol. Following the incident at Peterborough, the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) obtained the agreement of consignors of explosives to implement the vehicle marking requirement before the regulations formally came into effect.

Following the report of the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, Chief Officer Letter 4/1989 was superseded on 3 May 1991 by Chief Officer Letter 4/1991, item 3, which made a distinction between fires that involve the load compartment, and those that do not and the possible evacuation of the area. The HSE advised that only where the rapid application of water would have a good chance of preventing an explosion, should an attack by firefighters be attempted.

On 6 May 1992, Chief Officers Letter 6/1992 item 7 introduced Technical Bulletin 1/1992: Explosives Guide. This Technical Bulletin gives general guidance about the common properties of explosives, the various uses to which they are put and the regulations covering their manufacture, storage and transportation.

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