Buncefield Disaster

This occurred on Saturday, 10th December, 2005 at 06:01 hours. Fortunately, there were not fatalities. There was substantial damage to surrounding properties, both private and commercial.

The Buncefield depot is located on the Chalk aquifer, which supports several groundwater abstractions for public waster supply in the surrounding area but not in the immediate vicinity of the site. The incident generated a substantial volume of contaminated liquid that, with one or two exceptions, was contained at the surface within bunded areas on site during the incident. The contaminants in the liquid included hydrocarbons and fire fighting foams, a proportion of which are potentially hazardous (both contain toxic chemicals that are List 1 substances under the Groundwater Regulations.

The Environment Agency and Three Valleys Water immediately began monitoring both surface and groundwater quality surrounding the Buncefield site. A number of groundwater monitoring locations are within the Gade Catchment. All public supply sources are treated prior to delivery of water to customers and if any contamination becomes apparent it would either be removed prior to supply or the abstraction would be taken out of service. The water supply operators are responsible for treating all water to the required drinking water standards set and regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.