Everything we know after four killed in Avonmouth tragedy

everything we know after four killed in avonmouth tragedy - Everything we know after four killed in Avonmouth tragedy

everything we know after four killed in avonmouth tragedy 2 - Everything we know after four killed in Avonmouth tragedy

A huge investigation is underway after a teenager and three men were killed in an Avonmouth explosion yesterday.

Avon & Somerset Police are leading a joint inquiry with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the deaths of four people following a blast at the water recycling plant on December 3.

This evening, police named those who tragically lost their lives as Michael James, 64; Brian Vickery, 63; Raymond White, 57; and Luke Wheaton, 16.

The local community has today talked of its shock and sadness following Thursday’s major incident.

And floral tributes have now been laid near to the entrance of Wessex Water’s premises.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Wessex Water, Colin Skellett, has vowed to find out how tragedy happened.

Where did the blast take place?

The blast happened in a silo that holds treated biosolids before it is recycled to land as an organic soil conditioner.

What caused the explosion?

Two experts have described how the explosion appears to have been the result of a catastrophic build-up of pressure in an anaerobic digester – a system used to process waste materials which produces methane gas. An investigation is now underway into the explosion involving various agencies.

Tony Ennis, who has been an expert in the field of fire and explosion hazards for over 25 years, said: “The explosion appears to have taken place in a silo which stores the output from an anaerobic digester.

“The waste is organic, for example food waste, and is ‘digested’ to create methane gas, which is the main component of natural gas – the gas can be used to generate electricity.”

What will happen next?

Inquests will take place in the coming months to ascertain how they died, while ultimately prosecutions could be brought if criminal negligence is determined.

The Health and Safety Executive has already started an investigation using drones to inspect the shattered structure.

What has Wessex Water said?

Chief Executive Colin Skellett said: “We are all absolutely devastated by what has happened. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives during the tragic event on Thursday.

“I know from the thoughts and comments I have received from so many, that this has affected the whole Wessex Water family.

“I know Avonmouth, I worked there for many years, and I know the people, some of whom have lost their lives during this terrible incident.

“We have never had a fatality at Wessex Water before. Despite all of our procedures, systems, protocols and training, this awful event has happened.

“We are determined to find out what happened and why and we will work with the relevant authorities to do just that.”

What have police said?

Superintendent Simon Brickwood said: “I’d like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of those involved in yesterday’s tragic incident.

“An investigation has been launched into the causes of the explosion, with the support of partner agencies and the Health and Safety Executive. This is likely to be ongoing for some time and we will be keeping the victims’ families informed throughout.

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“We appreciate the impact this incident has had on the local community and we thank those affected for their patience while our investigative work is carried out. The local neighbourhood policing team is available to address any concerns members of the public may have.

“I’d like to pay tribute to those involved in the emergency response, who have been at the scene throughout the night under very difficult and challenging circumstances.”

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