GAS BLAST — LUCKY ESCAPE

GAS BLAST — LUCKY ESCAPE

Property development firm, PJ Livesey Group Ltd, was prosecuted by the HSE and fined £100,000 following a major gas explosion that destroyed dozens of homes in Didsbury, South Manchester in December 2009.
The former Withington Hospital building was being converted into houses and apartments when a worker cut through a six-inch gas pipe in an underground tunnel. About an hour later, gas that had continued to leak from the damaged pipe ignited causing an explosion that destroyed a large part of the site.
The emergency services evacuated residents from hundreds of homes following the initial gas leak, including 21 occupied apartments at the development. Businesses, three schools, a hospital, two health units and a police station also had to be evacuated and the Urban Search and Rescue team was brought in to search the rubble to see if anyone was trapped.
The court was told that the PJ Livesey Group, the Principal Contractor for the development, had obtained a diagram from National Grid during the planning stages of the project which showed a gas main running into the site. However, the company did not arrange for a detailed survey to be carried out to find out where the pipe ran and wrongly informed workers on the site that the gas pipes had been decommissioned.
PJ Livesey Group Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after failing to ensure people’s safety. The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £21, 404.

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