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Corus asked to pay 3 mn pounds for fatal blast

Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus has been fined more than three mn pounds for breaching health and safety laws.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 12:29 IST

Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus, currently in the midst of a takeover bid by India's Tata Steel and Brazil's CSN, has been fined more than three million pounds for breaching health and safety laws at a factory where an explosion killed three workers five years ago.

The giant steel maker was fined after it admitted at Swansea Crown Court that it had failed to ensure worker safety at its Port Talbot plant. Twelve workers were also injured in the fatal blast.

High Court Judge Justice Lloyd Jones fined Corus 1,330,000 pounds and ordered it to pay 1,744,474 pounds costs, saying Corus had "fallen short" of safety standards.

The explosion in 2001 destroyed blast furnace five, lifting it off its base and blasting out 200 tonnes of steel slag and hot gasses.

Len Radford, 53, from Maesteg, Andrew Hutin, 20 and Stephen Gatsworthy, 25, from Port Talbot, died in the blast.

Corus admitted civil liability about a year after the explosion. Negotiations about compensation are still going on.

In his rulingon FridayJudge Jones launched a scathing attack on the company's safety record. "The lamentable catalogue of failures makes clear that this was an accident waiting to happen," the judge said.

He listed a series of previous health and safety breaches that Corus had been convicted of, and said that he saw these as aggravating features.

He said the company's health and safety record was "very poor" and the management attitude to safety "casual".

The Judge went on to say that he saw the failures as "systemic" and no individual was to blame.

First Published: Dec 16, 2006 12:29 IST