Shell has been fined €2.5 million for an explosion at its Moerdijk complex in 2014 that left two people injured.
The district court in Den Bosch ruled that the oil firm was in breach of environmental and safety at work laws regarding both the fire and a chemical leak 18 months later at the same site.
The leak of the poisonous chemical ethylene oxide, which can cause cancer, lasted two months, at a rate of 380kg a day. The court said the company should not taken enough preventive measures to stop either the blast or the leak happening.
The plant produces oil-based products which are used in the production of packaging, soft drink bottles, dvds, mattresses and car tyres.
The court said it was a ‘matter of luck’ that the explosion and the ensuing fire did not lead to ‘an even greater catastrophe’. ‘After the explosion fragments, including pieces of a reactor, were found hundreds of miles away from the factory.’
The prosecution service brought the case against Shell in March after concluding that the company’s prevention policy was below standard and ‘endangered employees and people in the surrounding area’.
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