UEA fined on safety

November 19, 1999

The University of East Anglia has been found guilty of breaching health and safety laws after an explosion at its flagship school of environmental sciences.

UEA was fined Pounds 9,500 and made to pay Pounds 14,000 costs at Norwich magistrates court following a successful prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive on three breaches of the law. The university pleaded guilty to all three.

The prosecution followed a laboratory explosion early this year caused by the incorrect storage of pressurised and frozen air samples. The HSE said that there was a "catastrophic failure" of a storage vessel after safety instructions had been ignored and air had been accidentally stored at the wrong temperature and pressure.

The HSE found four other vessels in a similarly dangerous state. They were sealed off and depressurised by a robot.

The air sample was transported from the Norfolk coast through Norwich. If the container had exploded in transit, it could have caused death or serious injury.

A UEA spokesman said: "The low level of the fine reflected our excellent health and safety record and the policies we have in place. This was our first conviction in more than 30 years working at the forefront of science."

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