Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - NET Explosion.


asked the Minister for Labour if he intends to make public the report of the recent explosion at NET.

I assume the Deputy's question relates to the explosion on 23 December 1988 at the Marino Point plant of Irish Fertiliser Industries. I am aware that this incident caused concern to the people in the area and I can understand their desire for information about remedial action.

Immediately following the explosion, industrial inspectors of my Department carried out a series of investigations and had extensive consultations with the company. Following their inquiries, the inspectorate reported to me that the incident occurred due to metal fatigue failure of a weld and subsequent rapture on a section of 24 inch pipe which was conveying process gases, resulting in an explosion and fire. There were no personal injuries as a result of the incident and damage was largely confined to the plant.

Subsequently, the company gave full information about works they proposed to carry out in order to ensure safe operations at the plant. The inspectorate examined those proposals and satisfied themselves that appropriate remedial measures had been taken to allow a restart of the plant.

I should explain for the Deputy's information that the plant at Marino Point comes under the requirements of the European Communities (Major Accident Hazards of Certain Industrial Activities) Regulations 1986. The company are required to submit a notification under these regulations to the industrial inspectorate by July 1989. This notification comprises a comprehensive safety case in which the company must demonstrate that an assessment has been made of all potential major accident hazards and that appropriate preventive and mitigating measures have been implemented. In common with all such notifications under these regulations, the notification to be submitted by the IFI for the Marino Point Plant will be examined closely by the industrial inspectorate and will form the basis for the ongoing monitoring of the operation of this plant under the powers contained in the regulations.

I thank the Minister for the information. It is of vital importance to the workers and the people who reside in that area. They need to know that every possible precaution is being taken to ensure that there is not a recurrence of this. Apparently the workers believe that a possibility still exists that there might be another explosion.

I know that the explosion on the day before Christmas Eve caused great anxiety in the area. I would reassure the Deputy that the industrial inspectorate were satisfied with regard to the measures taken before they allowed a re-start at the plant. The industrial inspectorate are also concerned about the implications of the incident and they intend to closely scrutinise the company's operation on an ongoing basis using their powers under the EC regulations mentioned in the reply. The incident constituted a major accident as defined in the EC Directive 82/501 and it has been reported to the EC Commission under Article 11.1 of that Directive.