Total UK and four other companies were today ordered to pay more than £9 million in combined fines and costs over

their part in the Buncefield oil depot explosion. Total was fined £3,600,000 and will also pay £2,600,000 costs for failing to protect workers and the public over the explosion in 2005. Meanwhile, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited was

fined £1,450,000 plus £1,000,000 costs, British Pipeline Agency Ltd £300,000 plus £480,000 costs, and Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd and TAV Engineering Ltd were both fined £1,000 and each ordered to pay £500 in costs.

Sentencing the companies at St Albans Crown Court, the Press Association reported that Judge Sir David Calvert-Smith said: "Had the explosion happened during a working day, the loss of life may have been measured in tens or even hundreds."

As reported here last November, Total UK admitted two charges under the Health and Safety Act and one of causing pollution. The group of companies were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

The blast in 2005 at the Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire – which supplied 20% of fuels to the south east – injured 43 people and caused millions of pounds’ worth of damage.