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Flashback: 14 Die In Massive Explosion At Texas City Refinery More Than 80 People Injured

POSTED: March 23, 2005 TEXAS CITY, Texas -- A massive explosion and fire erupted at a Texas City refinery Wednesday afternoon, resulting in at least 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries. It also destroyed buildings and vehicles, and sent a plume of thick, black smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

The blast happened at 1:20 p.m. at the BP Amoco petrochemical plant, located at 2401 5th Street. It occurred in a gasoline refinery area of the plant, officials told Local 2. The explosion and fire left a lot of destruction and rubble at the plant, including a row of vehicles destroyed by flames, as well as buildings blown apart and leveled.

In addition to the 14 deaths, at least 105 people were injured.

Twenty-two victims, including 21 men and one woman, were taken to UTMB Hospital in Galveston, a Level 1 trauma center. Four people are listed in critical condition and ten victims are in serious condition. The others are listed in fair condition. Hospital officials said the injuries range from burns, scrapes, scratches and contusions, to broken arms and broken legs.

"We're talking about some pretty serious burns, some people with a combination of burns and blunt trauma from the explosion itself or what we see a lot of times, people who are blown back from the explosion and run into some other thing or structure. We've seen some people injured in the collapse of some structures. We've seen some orthopedic injuries, some burns. We have a lot of people with eardrum injuries where they've blown out their eardrums and can't really hear or communicate well right now because of that. So, we're seeing a wide spectrum of injuries at the moment," said Brian Zachariah, UTMB's emergency medical director.

At least 60 injured were treated at Mainland Medical Center in Texas City, while another 23 were treated at the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster. They are all listed in stable condition.

Lifeflight helicopters helped transport some of the victims. All of the injuries involve workers at the refinery. An information hot line was set up for families of employees at (409) 945-1400.

"It's been a sad day for the BP Texas City site and a really sad day for me, personally, as well. Our concern right now is for the families of those injured and families of those involved in the incident," said Don Parus, BP Amoco's Texas City site director. "At this time, it's unclear what happened. The fire was contained to the isomerization unit. This unit improves the octane of gasoline. It was contained to that single unit."

A search-and-rescue team worked into the night looking for victims. The FBI also joined the investigation into the blast, which is standard procedure after the Sept. 11 attacks. But officials said they do not suspect terrorism.

"We have blast technicians down there and other personnel working with the Texas City P.D. at their command post," said Al Tribble, with the Houston FBI office. "From what I've seen and heard, thus far, there's a lot of investigative work that needs to be done. There's a lot of questions that have to be asked."

Residents Hear, Feel Blast

Residents told Local 2 that the explosion rattled homes and shattered windows.

"I was in my house on Tiki Island and it shook the house," said Mark Jackson. "I walked out my back door and saw the smoke." Jackson lives about five miles from the blast location.

"I heard this big explosion. The whole building shook. Things were coming off the walls and we knew that something exploded. It's just been chaotic around here with everything," said Dianne Burnett, who works across the street from the refinery. "Our scaffolding fell."

"I was shaking and then I heard a boom and a window popped out. I was just at the door and I turned around and went and got my cousin out of the bed," said Keisha McFarland, a nearby resident.

"All of a sudden it just went, 'Boom.' It knocked my nephew to the ground, three blocks away," said Joey Terry, who felt the explosion.

"It felt like my walls were going to be caving in on me. It shook my house so bad," an unidentified resident said.

"We felt the explosion sitting at an intersection and we thought a car had hit us," another unidentified resident said.

A shelter-in-place order issued for nearby residents and schools in the Texas City Independent School District was lifted at about 2:15 p.m.

The BP Amoco complex is the largest in Texas City, with 1,200 acres. The facility, which lies along the Houston Ship Channel, has 1,800 employees. It is considered one of the most complex refineries in the world. The Texas City site has been in operation since 1934 and supplies 3 percent of the nation's gas. The plant processes 433,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

On March 30, several explosions rocked the same facility. Officials said that fire started in a furnace. The plant was evacuated, but no one was injured. - click2houston

Statement from the United Steelworkers Union on BP's Final Texas City Refinery Explosion Report

DATE: December 14, 2005 FROM: PR Newswire

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers union is in the process of reviewing BP's final report on the March 23 explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery. The union will issue a more detailed response next week. The executive summary in the report makes it clear that the accident wasn't caused by a few plant operators but by safety management failures extending over many years.

The USW also supports the Dept. of Labor's action to refer the accident probe to the Justice Dept. The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, with more than 850,000 members. It is the predominant union in the oil and petrochemical industries, and represents workers at the BP Texas City refinery. - Oil & Gas Planet

BP owns responsibility for Texas refinery blast, could face criminal investigation

Published on : Sat, 10 Dec 2005 By : Richard Owen HOUSTON, Texas - The US Labor Department has indicated that BP Plc could face a criminal enquiry into the explosion at its Texas refinery in March. That explosion was responsible for 15 deaths and injured 170 people.

"A verbal referral has been made to the Department of Justice. It is now up to the Department of Justice to decide whether or not to pursue it," confirmed Alan Belsky, a Labor Department spokesman, adding ''When you have a case where there are willful violations found and those violations are tied directly to fatalities, the Department of Labor has the option to refer the case to the Justice Department."

However, a Justice spokesman declined to comment on the referral. Earlier on Friday, BP had issued a final report of its own investigation into the accident and accepted the responsibility for the blast on March 23. BP was already fined $21.3 million in September when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had found more than 300 lapses in health and safety measures.

The 192-page report of BP's internal investigation into the incident acknowledged that the management failed to make safety a priority and that some procedures were willfully bypassed. It also "accepted responsibility for the March 23rd explosion and for the management system failures and employee mistakes which contributed to or caused the explosion."

The United Steelworkers union, of which most of the BP workers are a part, said that the report vindicated their stand that the explosion was not caused by the negligence of a few workers, but by the management failure over many years.

The Texas City complex is BP's biggest refinery in North America and pumps out 460,000 barrels-per-day. Ross Pillari, president of BP said that they accepted the findings of the report and would spend close to $1 billion to make sure that the plant is rendered safe.

"We are working to make Texas City a complex that attains the highest levels of safety, reliability and environmental performance," Pillari said. In the backdrop of this news, London-based BP's shares fell 1.9 percent to $67.15 by mid-day on the New York exchange. - abcmoney

Dennis Knizley looks out on an oil rig beached just off of Dauphin Island, Ala., Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 30, 2005, a day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the island and brought the enormous structure a few hundred yards from shore. (AP Photo/Birmingham Post-Herald, Jan-Michael Stump)

Oil: Katrina adds to another record high

31.08.05 8.40am - Oil struck a high near US$71 on Tuesday as oil companies raced to check their abandoned oil platforms and refineries for damage after Hurricane Katrina's rampage through the Gulf of Mexico. US crude hit a record US$70.85 a barrel before settling at US$69.81, up US$2.61 a barrel, amid reports of drifting oil rigs and flooded refineries.

The storm, which killed at least 50 people, shut nearly all of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production -- about a quarter of the nation's oil output -- and closed down nine refineries along the coast, according to government figures.

Energy analysts said oil prices could soar as high as US$80 a barrel and drivers in the US could soon be paying US$3 a gallon for petrol if damage reports from oil companies bear bad news.

"This in many ways is the worst-case scenario that the oil industry has been fearing," said Geoff Sundstrom, spokesman for the AAA motorist group. "Production, distribution and refining has slowed to a crawl through the whole area." "It's not out of the question that US$80 could be the next barrier if there's long-term damage," said Gerard Burg, minerals and energy economist at National Australia Bank.

The last time oil prices, adjusted for inflation, averaged US$80 a barrel was 1980, after the Iranian revolution. Heating oil and petrol futures also reached peaks on the New York Mercantile Exchange, spelling more misery for consumers leading into the Northern Hemisphere winter. Petrol trading on the NYMEX was halted briefly after the contract gained the maximum allowed.

"Fasten your seat belt -- peak hurricane season isn't until mid-September through mid-October, and we've had two hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast already," said Deborah White, senior energy analyst at SG Commodities in Paris.

Opec's biggest crude oil producer, Saudi Arabia, moved swiftly to pledge an extra 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil to the market if needed and the United

States said it would dip into its strategic reserves if necessary. The Paris-based International Energy Agency said Tuesday it could release crude or fuel from its emergency reserves if the impact of Katrina causes a severe crunch.

"Nothing can be decided at this moment until a full assessment of the damage has been made," an IEA spokesman said. Royal Dutch Shell said an aerial inspection of its giant Mars oil platform indicated some damage to its upper deck. Two of the company's drilling rigs were adrift. Some 95 per cent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil output and more than 88 per cent of natural gas production were shut as of Tuesday, the US Minerals Management Service said. That closed down 1.4 million bpd of crude, roughly 7 per cent of US domestic demand and about the same amount as the estimated spare capacity held of Opec.

Since Katrina first entered the Gulf it has shut more than 3 million barrels of crude output. The storm also forced nine refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi to shut down and four others to reduce operations, disabling more than 10 per cent per cent of US refining capacity.

Several drilling companies, including Ensco, Transocean, and Noble, reported rigs adrift after the storm. "Drifting rigs are an ominous sign for an already panicky market since moorings and anchors can potentially be dragged by drifting facilities and do damage to subsea pipes," said analysts at JP Morgan.

The United States maintains a small government heating oil stockpile in the northeast but otherwise has limited ability to quickly meet sudden fuel shortfalls. - nzherald.co.nz

- Hurricane Katrina

SE UK under a toxic cloud

Dec 2005 - UK Boomtown! Hemel Hempstead

Sunday 11th Dec - 6.03am London time - series of massive explosions in a Oil/Petrol Depot in Buncefield, Hemel Hempstead, 25 miles North of London... Subsequent explosions were reported about 20 minutes later. - Toxic smoke is strewn across the entire south east of England - visible from space - M1 Motorway was closed...Amazingly there are no dead - houses damaged for miles around from what witnesses describe as a blast wave - yet, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS have issued minimal statements - Defense minister John Reid said that Armed forces were not requested but were on stand by - oil continues to burning on site as firefightes battle to contain the fires, as News channels issue the governments emergency 'go in, stay in, and tune in message'...watch early video taken live from TV

Police described the incident as an accident...A maintenance crew were operating in the depot early this morning - "Reports that a plane was involved in the incident are untrue," read a police statement issued barely an hour after the event. Some witnesses reported seeing a low-flying aircraft near the area before the blast...More explosions are likely..an area .the size of 6 footbal fields are alight..Total has 'categorically' denied media reports that there may have been product leaks prior to the depot's explosion. "It is thought to have been an accident, but we will need a full investigation by the Health and Safety Executive in due course," Deputy PM John Prescott told MPs.

Blair was seen trying to justify new tough 'anti-yob laws' to arrest on the basis of having too much cash on you...If Police don't like the look of you, then it's off to court to prove you got your money legally

UPDATE Tuesday: Firefighters have broken the back of the blaze - still concerns of environmental effects...

Reported to have a storage capacity of 150,000 tonnes, Buncefield holds massive stocks of oil, petrol & aviation fuel kerosene, used to supply airports across the region including Heathrow and Luton. The depot is in operation 24 hours a day, has been run as a joint venture by oil giants Total and Texaco. It is also used by BP and Shell. 400 tankers are filled at the site every day from a total of 26 storage tanks. A high-pressure oil pipeline, run by British Pipeline runs all the way from the Lindsey Oil Refinery in North Lincolnshire to the Buncefield site, where the oil is then stored. It is one of three underground supply pipelines feeding Buncefield. Safety issues have been raised against British pipeline in the past... a notice was issued for non-compliance with safety standards a date was set to 2002/2003 for standards to be met...

Total UK Refining and Marketing

TOTAL UK is the group's UK refining and marketing subsidiary and is based in Watford, Hertfordshire.

It has two refineries; at Milford Haven (South Wales) and Killingholme (Lincolnshire), as well as a lubricant blending plant at Ferrybridge (West Yorkshire) and a bitumen plant at Preston (Lancashire).

The TOTAL brand stands for outstanding customer care and high-quality products, and has a network of TOTAL branded service stations that provide high-quality motoring fuels and lubricants, and shops that stock a wide range of convenience products.

TOTAL now has well over a million TOPS card customers on our popular loyalty points programme, and our TOTALCard is used by businesses across the country to manage their fuel purchasing, utilising our e-billing and e-reporting facilities.

TOTAL also sells fuels and lubricants into the industrial, road transport and reseller markets which also includes its own subsidiary TOTAL BUTLER - the largest company-owned fuel distributor in Great Britain. We also have a large network of Authorised Distributors operating under the TOTAL brand as well as being a major supplier of fuel and lubricants to the Channel Islands and to the Isle of Man.

Our Specialities division manufactures and sells automotive and industrial lubricants, bitumen products and solvents into the transport, building and manufacturing sectors. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports are amongst the larger locations, along with the MOD, that are supplied with aviation fuel by AIR TOTAL. - uk.total.com

Butler (1843) Ltd
Buncefield Oil Terminal,
Green Lane,
Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd
Buncefield Terminal
Hemel Hempstead

Ground Pollution Fears Delayed UK Oil Fire Fight

12/12/2005 - By Peter Reina

Worries about ground pollution delayed attempts to douse a huge, accidental fire at the U.K.¹s Buncefield fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead, some 60 km north west of London. Fire fighters and officials from the Environment Agency were concerned that foaming chemical used to quell oil flames would escape into the chalk aquifers and rivers.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service began pumping a solution of water and foaming agent at 32,000 litres per minute some 26 hours after oil tanks exploded at about 6am on Dec. 11, causing 36 casualties but no deaths. Firefighters used enclosed storage areas at the depot to trap run-off from the fire fighting foam. Half the flames were extinguished within four hours

The blast, which was heard in London, triggered an unprecedently large peacetime U.K. fire at the depot, controlled by Total UK Ltd. The Health Protection Agency advised people nearby to stay indoors, while numerous schools were closed. Nearly 2.4 million tonnes of product, including gasoline, kerosene and aviation fuel pass through the terminal annually. - enr.ecnext

'We knew it would happen one day'

Julie Hemmings WITH its close proximity to the M1, the Buncefield oil depot has become one of the UK's major distribution terminals.

Reported to have a storage capacity of 150,000 tonnes, Buncefield holds massive stocks of oil and petrol as well as aviation fuel kerosene. The depot first came into use in 1968 but for the past 15 years has been run as a joint venture by oil giants Total and Texaco. It also is used by other leading petrol companies BP and Shell and stores 7.5 per cent of the UK's oil supply.

Buncefield, known as the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal, is in operation 24 hours a day, filling 400 tankers every day from a total of 26 storage tanks. Three underground supply pipelines feed the depot, including a high-pressure oil pipeline from the Lindsey Oil Refinery in North Lincolnshire.

In recognition of safety risks, the depot has a firewater lagoon that holds 1.4 million litres of water, and foam suppressants and a trailer carrying up to 20,000 litres of foam.

A two-day public inquiry was held into plans for the depot in Green Lane, Hemel Hempstead, but the development then met with little local resistance. Thousands of people now live within a short distance of the depot, with the town centre just three miles away, and the M1 around half a mile away. Yesterday at least 2,000 people were moved from their homes as a precaution and Dacorum mayor Jane Hall conceded there had been controversy over Buncefield's proximity to residents.

"It is just one of those events that people knew would happen one day," she said.

Buncefield became a focus for demonstrations during protests against rising fuel prices in 2000, with gates at the depot blocked by trucks. The depot is one of the largest of the 43 storage and distribution terminals across the UK which supply fuel to retailers and airports. The terminals are fed from oil refineries by sea, road, rail, and a 1,500-mile network of pipelines.

"It is quite a significant facility in terms of its scale," said Nick Vandervell, the UK Petroleum Industry Association's communication's director. The depot is fed by pipeline - Total have their own pipeline which comes down from the Lindsey refinery bringing petrol, diesel and jet fuel."

Tanker lorries fill up at the fuel terminals and deliver to petrol stations across the country but jet fuel is usually distributed through underground pipes. Buncefield has a pipe that takes jet fuel to Heathrow and Gatwick.

Britain is criss-crossed by underground oil pipelines, some owned by oil companies and others by the Government, which move 30 million tonnes of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel a year. The pipelines are controlled by computer systems, linked to sensors and automatic valves to manage the speed of flow. 12 December 2005

Buncefield scare closes many Luton schools

Day off on Tuesday announced by Town Hall

Safety fears are forcing the closure of hundreds of schools on Tuesday, following the fire at the Buncefield oil depot on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead.

The local council says there are health concerns over the smoke plume - as "particles in the air are a particular risk to children and young people".

Schools will be closed in a 10-mile radius of the site of the fire – which includes many in Luton and Dunstable, which were open as usual on Monday.

The closures, affecting tens of thousands of pupils, follow the explosions at the oil depot on Sunday morning - with the council updating its health advice on Monday evening.

Dr Jane Halpin, director of public health at the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Strategic Health Authority, has said that young children, the elderly and those with existing respiratory problems were most likely to be adversely affected by smoke. - lutontoday

Buncefield oil fire

(13th December 2005) The Health Protection Agency has issued the following health advice in response to the oil fire near Hemel Hempstead. The fire produced a large plume of smoke rising above the town and which is now dispersing over southern England.

The general health advice for people in the Hemel Hempstead area continues to be 'stay in doors, keep windows closed and tune into local media for further updates.'

Air quality has not shown significant pollution from the fire and therefore the risk to health is low but as a precaution residents are advised to follow the existing advice. Local health services have been on standby but have not seen increased numbers of people suffering from breathing problems, which would be associated with an incident of this kind. The Health Protection Agency will continue to closely monitor the situation and encourages residents to monitor its website www.hpa.org.uk for updates and any new advice.

Those most at risk from inhalation of smoke particles are people with existing respiratory problems such as asthma or chronic bronchitis or cardiac problems. People in these categories should be especially vigilant. If they see smoke or there are soot particles on windowsills or external surfaces they should stay indoors with windows and doors closed. People in these categories who have concerns should contact NHS Direct.

If people are affected, mostly it will produce immediate effects such as coughing or a tight chest. These symptoms usually disappear very soon once exposure to the smoke or ash has ceased and are unlikely to result in any long-term health problems. - hertfordshire.co.uk

Possible impact of massive UK explosions

Britain's oil industry was working hard to calm fears of widespread fuel shortages in the country in the wake of the Buncefield terminal blast. Privately, some industry officials admitted there would be temporary problems as some motorists began panic buying. There have been no immediate leads on the cause of the explosions at the plant but the immediate effect has been to stop distribution from adjacent fuel sites run by companies such as BP. Here is a look at the impact of the blast:

At petrol stations

As signs of panic buying appeared, petrol retailers said they had emergency plans in place and companies were using other distribution depots to feed the affected region. There are about 50 oil storage facilities dotted across the UK which experts believe will be able to cover demand.

On the roads

A 29-kilometre stretch of the M1 motorway was closed on Sunday, and the Highways Agency warned this could continue yesterday. Congestion could be even worse today as people tried to return to work yesterday morning, the busiest time of the week on the roads.

In the air

The airline industry has two major worries: a lack of aviation fuel and the plume of black smoke which has already caused delays at London-Heathrow. The closest airport to the blast, Luton, operated normally yesterday, though passengers struggled to reach it because of the traffic chaos.

Business impact

Business leaders already fear that the UK is headed for an energy crisis this winter, warning that the country is not receiving the gas imports it needs to continue working. The massive explosion in Hertfordshire and the loss of an estimated 7.5 per cent of the UK's total oil supply will have done nothing to reassure them. Meanwhile, the insurance industry will be totting up the potential impact of the blasts in residential property claims and the much larger commercial claims that the site's owners and also BP, are likely to make. - english.people.com.cn

what happens when
fuel gets too expensive?

Flashback Fuel protests September, 2000: Eight days that shook Britain

BBC News Online recounts the escalating protests over fuel prices that caught the government, the media and the motorists on the hop.

Thursday 7 September: As the price of crude oil nudges $35 a barrel, a litre of fuel in the UK looks set to rise by 2p. Already paying about 80p a litre - the highest petrol prices in the developed world - motoring groups react with anger.

Inspired by the successful protests in France a week earlier, about 100 farmers and lorry drivers from Wales and north-west England blockade the Stanlow Shell Oil Refinery in Cheshire.

Most telling detail: Farmers for Action chairman David Handley warns the protest may escalate into a "winter of unrest".

Friday 8 September: Public anger begins to sweep the country. More than 100 lorries stage a "go-slow" protest on the A1 before blockading the Texaco refinery in Pembroke.

MTD: The energy crisis of 1973 - which saw oil prices rocket worldwide and rampant inflation in the UK - suddenly seems eerily familiar.

Saturday 9 September: Although the protesters are not actively preventing tanker drivers from leaving the refineries, the vehicles stand idle and empty. Some drivers say they are reluctant to cross the unofficial picket lines, but in the main, oil companies instruct them to stay put - apparently out of concern for their safety.

MTD: As early editions of the Sunday papers hit the streets, the protests rate fewer column inches than Mo Mowlam's new biography.

Sunday 10 September: Ministers from the 11 Opec oil-producing countries agree to pump an extra 800,000 barrels a day to bring down prices. Chancellor Gordon Brown flatly refuses to be swayed by the disruption, saying decisions are made in budgets not blockades. Nervous motorists start stockpiling fuel, causing a run on petrol, which in turn sparks yet more panic buying.

MTD: Ambulance drivers in Staffordshire are instructed to stick to 55mph on non-emergency call-outs in an effort to save petrol .

Monday 11 September: Lorry drivers in Edinburgh and Liverpool taxi drivers stage "go slows" through the streets of their respective cities. The Privy Council and the Queen sanction the use of emergency powers to control the distribution of fuel.

MTD: As public support builds, even the organisers of the original blockade are taken by surprise. "It just happened," farmer Richard Haddock tells BBC News Online when asked how the protests spread across the UK.

Tuesday 12 September: Government ministers hold a series of crisis meetings on getting fuel out of the refineries - under contingency powers, they can direct oil companies to designate petrol stations to supply emergency and essential services only. Prime Minister Tony Blair vows to get the tankers moving again within 24 hours.

MTD: Motorists' tempers flare at the few remaining petrol stations with fuel stocks, as forecourt staff try to ration purchases to £5-worth of petrol each.

Wednesday 13 September: A total of 280 tankers leave depots around the UK, in addition to the 60 which pulled out on Tuesday night - just a fraction of the 3,000 deliveries typically made each day. More than 90% of petrol stations have run dry.

The M25 - unusually empty of delivery lorries

Some 200 truckers park up along Park Lane, bringing parts of central London to a standstill. Food rationing returns to Britain as panic buying shifts to supermarkets. Some shops are bare of bread and milk. The NHS is put on red alert - which means at a moment's notice, all hospitals must be ready to cancel all but emergency cases.

MTD: Royal Hull Hospital runs out of stitches for use in operations.

Thursday 14 September: Most protesters call off the blockades, saying they have made their point loud and clear. While Mr Blair welcomes the end, he again rules out capitulating to protesters' demands for tax cuts to bring the price of fuel down. MTD: As the petrol drought forces drivers onto public transport, bus companies across the country curtail services to conserve dwindling fuel stocks. BBC

Bleak time for UK's hauliers

Tuesday 15th November 2005 - A HAULAGE firm boss says the industry is in crisis and is predicting a major recession if the cost of diesel continues to climb. Andy Tooth, the director of LV Transport Ltd, says he feels the battle against fuel prices is a "lost cause". Diesel prices have hit an average of 96p a litre this month 1p more than the cost during the national fuel protests in September, while October saw the cost hit 97p. The protests followed soaring petrol prices after Hurricane Katrina forced the evacuation of several American oilrigs and refineries.

Mr Tooth, who is based in Norfolk Road, Gravesend, said: "The future looks bleak and some companies are choosing to get out while they can. "Foreign hauliers are continuing to price us out of our own market and I predict a major recession within the next 18 months. "Demand is falling and we've had no Christmas rush. "People are turning to cheaper options and you can't hold it against them. "The British haulage industry is in danger of disappearing. I would love to see the Government give us a chance to run our businesses comparably with others. "At the moment we have no choice other than to wait and see what happens."

Fellow haulier Nigel Mason, of Connect Freight, based at the Europa Trading Estate, Erith, also feels the price of fuel is still too high. He said: "I agree it is a bleak time. Hauliers just don't seem to be being backed by the public, which has to change. "I suppose the Government feels people are content now the cost of unleaded has fallen but many garages are persisting with high diesel costs and, incredibly, people are still buying it." He added: "I think the public is unaware of the repercussions of paying higher prices. "It might just be a few pence for them but when you're filling up a truck it makes all the difference. "I am urging people to make a stand and boycott these garages. If you buy from them then you are supporting higher prices which are crippling our industry." - newsshopper.co.uk

German protesters disrupt nuclear waste transfer

Mon Nov 21, 2005 BERLIN (Reuters) - German anti-nuclear activists briefly held up a train carrying nuclear waste from a French reprocessing facility on its way to a storage depot in northern Germany on Sunday, police said. The train with 12 wagons of nuclear waste sealed in glass containers was delayed for 90 minutes near the southwestern town of Bietigheim-Bissingen when around a dozen anti-nuclear protesters demonstrated on the tracks. Police detained them.

The train was heading for the northern Gorleben interim storage depot, where it is due to arrive on Monday. Thousands of activists are waiting near the depot to stage more protests to disrupt the transportation of the waste. The protests, which began on Friday, have been mostly peaceful.

Around 15,000 police are accompanying the nuclear waste transfer in Germany.

Activists protesting against such shipments have clashed with police in previous years. In 2002, protesters disrupted the passage of a train by burning tires on the tracks and by chaining themselves to the rails.

On Sunday in Gusborn near Gorleben, several hundred demonstrators joined 150 farmers in a blockade with their tractors on a street leading to the Gorleben depot, a temporary facility that protesters fear will become a permanent waste depot.

They also worry it will contaminate the local water supply. Earlier, about 1,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear rally in Gusborn, including some on horses and bicycles. The waste is originally produced in Germany but transported to La Hague in France for reprocessing. France insists the waste must return to the country of origin.

During a waste transfer last November an environmentalist was run over and killed when he chained himself to the railway tracks at Nancy, eastern France. - reuters.co.uk

Roof protesters halt Blair speech

nlnews@archant.co.uk 30 November 2005

GREENPEACE protesters caused a major security breach when they disrupted a speech by Tony Blair in Islington.

The Prime Minister was due to address the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference at the Business Design Centre, in Upper Street, outlining energy plans that could lead to new UK nuclear power stations. But the event was thrown into chaos when two campaigners from Greenpeace UK - based in Canonbury Villas, Islington - climbed up the inside of the roof of the main hall where Mr Blair was to speak. Both wore delegates' badges. One unfurled a banner saying: "Nuclear: Wrong Answer."

Mr Blair later spoke in a smaller side-room, saying: "Nuclear power is of course a difficult and a challenging issue. "Like most tough issues what we actually need is an open and democratic debate, not one conducted by protests and demonstrations to stop people having the freedom to express their views."

Greenpeace wanted to be allowed to make a 10-minute speech in return for ending the protest. But CBI director general Digby Jones moved the PM's speech instead, saying: "I don't give in to ultimatums."

Business Design Centre chief executive Dominic Jones said: "Despite the inconvenience caused by the protest we were able to relocate the 700 delegates to an alternative room quickly and while it may not have been as comfortable as we would have wished, the Prime Minister was able to deliver his speech to the conference audience and the event resumed within an hour."

Greenpeace named the protesters as Huw Williams and Nyls Verhauelt. They were arrested and taken to a police station. Mr Verhauelt said: "We should have a democratic right to have a voice here as well. This was the only way we could say what we wanted."

It is believed they posed as employees of a fictitious company, E-Lingo, and had booked for the conference as delegates last week. The CBI is to hold a full review of security. - islingtongazette

How do you stop action: make protestors look bad by getting the publics sympathy

This is Total in Burma:

French oil giant TOTAL Oil is in business with Burma's brutal military dictatorship. Its joint venture in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma earns the military regime hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Burma is ruled by a military dictatorship renowned for both oppressing and impoverishing its people, while enriching itself and the foreign businesses that work with it. TOTAL Oil, the fourth largest oil company in the world, is in business with Burma's dictatorship. It has been in Burma since 1992 against the wishes of Burma's elected leaders, many of whom are being detained by the Junta. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's pro-democracy leader, has said that "Total has become the main supporter of the Burmese military regime." 1. She told the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur that "TOTAL knew what it was doing when it invested massively in Burma while others withdrew from the market for ethical reasons". She added, "the company must accept the consequences. The country will not always be governed by dictators." 2.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won 82 percent of the seats in Burma's 1990 election. It has called on foreign companies not to invest in Burma because of the role investment plays in perpetuating dictatorship in that country. All the major ethnic leaderships from Burma have whole-heartedly supported this position too. Therefore, the mandate from which companies are asked not to invest in Burma comes from within the country.

This report gathers together much of the available evidence relating to TOTAL's role in fuelling the oppressive dictatorship in Burma. Broadly, it covers human rights abuses associated with TOTAL's gas pipeline, TOTAL's financing of Burma's dictatorship and TOTAL's influence on French foreign policy and therefore on European Burma policy as a whole. TOTAL's presence in Burma has consequences far beyond its 63-kilometre pipeline across Burmese territory. Its destructive influence goes to the heart of international policy towards one of the world's most brutal regimes. For that reason it is essential for all those who want change in Burma to deal with the problem of TOTAL Oil. As long as TOTAL remains in Burma, the dictatorship will be satisfied that the chances of real pressure against it are unlikely. - burmacampaign.org

TOTALS statement: "Unfortunately, the world's oil and gas reserves are not necessarily located in democracies, as a glance at a map shows. As a result, oil companies often face criticism and questions from civil society concerning their operations in countries with repressive regimes, their relations with governments, the security measures deployed to protect their facilities, and the way in which host countries spend oil revenues." - burma.total.com

comparisons are made between UK anti terror laws & Burma

Anti-Terror Laws Attract Unwelcome Comparison With Despotic Regimes

February 7, 2005 LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair's government stands accused of going down the road towards a police state following proposed new anti-terror laws which have prompted comparisons with repressive regimes such as Myanmar.

The row erupted late last month, when Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced a series of planned changes to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, passed following the September 11 attacks on the United States. That law allowed foreign nationals suspected of terrorism offences who refused to be deported to be detained indefinitely without trial, solely on the word of the home secretary.

Slammed by rights groups as creating "Britain's Guantanamo Bay", after the US center for terror suspects in Cuba, late last year the Law Lords, Britain's top court of appeal, ruled that the measure broke human rights obligations. In response, Clarke announced on January 26 that 12 detained foreign suspects would gradually be freed. However, under a planned change to the law they could instead be placed under "control orders", including indefinite house arrest, electronic tagging or curfews, again on the say-so of the home secretary.

The new proposals, which have yet to reach the statute books, have prompted further ire from rights groups, who point out that indefinite house arrest without trial is usually only practiced by despotic regimes such as Myanmar, also known as Burma, China and North Korea.

Louise Christian, a lawyer representing several of the detainees held under the 2001 law, has been scathing, calling the new proposals "the kind of measures aimed at people like Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma". Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar's main opposition party and a Nobel Peace laureate, has been held off and on at her home by the military dictatorship in Yangon for many years.

The Guardian newspaper reported Monday that terror suspects detained at Belmarsh prison and Broadmoor high security hospital have launched a case at the European court of human rights that could wreck the government's plan to replace detention in prison with house arrest. The new laws were also condemned by Edward Nally, president of the Law Society, which represents 90,000 lawyers in England and Wales.

"We need a proportionate response to the threat of terrorism, and not sweeping powers that turn the government into the police, judge and jury," he said. "If you can detain someone indefinitely in their home, it is not very different from keeping them in prison," added Guy Mansfield, Chairman of the Bar Council, which represents barristers.

Since Clarke's announcement, two of the 12 foreign detainees have been freed from prison without constraint. According to Roger Leng, a law lecturer specializing in suspects' rights at the University of Warwick, the new proposals could also contravene the European Convention on Human Rights, now part of British law.

"I thing the new (control) orders may fall foul of the European convention on Human Rights," he said. The Law Lords "could and should" rule the law contravenes the rights convention, "and on the balance I would expect them to do so", he said.

However, Clarke, who took over as home secretary last year from the instigator of the 2001 law, David Blunkett, has stressed he is in no mood to give in to human rights groups. Quizzed about alleged abuses against British nationals recently freed from Guantanamo Bay, Clarke made it plain he considered individual rights to come second to anti-terrorism in all areas of his role. "I am absolutely unapologetic in saying it, that anybody in my job has to have national security at the center of their concerns," Clarke told BBC on Sunday. "I'm all in favor of human rights, but I'm even more in favor of our national security being protected."

Rights groups remain unimpressed.

"This a glimpse of the terrifying future where everyone may be subjected to detention on the basis of secret intelligence and a politician's whim," said Shami Chakrabarti, head of civil liberties campaign organization Liberty. - source

remember BP/shell - ties to spooks

BP Middle East Ltd.
Business type: Petrol & Oil Wholesale,
Breakspear Park,
Breakspear Way,
Hemel Hempstead,

just an earshot from the Buncefield depot

related? 2000: The Export-Import Bank's $500 million loan guarantee for Russian Tyumen Oil Co. faced a pressure campaign to reject the loan, led by BP Amoco, which was battling Tyumen for control of a Russian oil field known as Chernogorneft. Joining BP in its lobbying campaign was global financier George Soros, who had also invested in the oil field, and the powerhouse lobbying firm, Patton Boggs. As Ex-Im neared a decision, the NSC asked the CIA to analyze information about Tyumen and make it available to the bank's directors and other concerned agencies. A CIA cover letter said it had been "commissioned by an international oil company, and produced by a Russian security firm that employs former members of the Russian security service," The document had actually been commissioned by BP, [MI6?] But that information was not conveyed to anyone at Ex-Im, despite the bank directors' requests to know the origins of the report so they could evaluate its spin. The CIA wouldn't discuss who might have commissioned the report. - from this source

related? 2004: BP has spent more than three years developing the £2.65bn Tangguh project in the Bintuni Bay area of western half of Papua New Guinea...

Specific concerns include a "worrying lack of transparency" of BP's failure to implement human rights commitments made two years ago; refusal to publish a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian police after promising local people security would be community-based; refusal to publish a forthcoming report on Tangguh's human rights performance; and a refusal to use its influence to help stabilise the deteriorating local political situation. - guardian

related? BP's business ethics were challenged when in June 2001 The Sunday Times, revealed that both BP and Shell acknowledged that they hired a private intelligence company with close ties to the British spy agency, MI6, to collect information on campaigns by Greenpeace and the Body Shop. The newspaper revealed that German-born Manfred Schlickenrieder was hired by Hakluyt, a private intelligence agency, to report on Greenpeace campaigns against oil developments in the north Atlantic. Schlickenrieder posed as a film maker working on films sympathetic to activist groups. The report asserts that the former deputy chairman of BP, Sir Peter Cazalet, helped to establish Hakluyt with former chairman of Shell, Sir Peter Holmes, as president of its foundation.

related? Nov 2005: Toxic chemicals released into a river in a Chinese chemical plant explosion. The spill, caused by a Nov. 13 chemical plant explosion, dumped 100 tons of benzene and other chemicals into northeastern China's Songhua River, disrupting water supplies to millions of Chinese and straining relations with Moscow. An Official blamed for Chinese toxic spill was found hanged

related? Dec 2005 - Police in Baku, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, have detained two British nationals near a water reservoir. The two are being held on suspicion of trying to poison water supplies, the Regnum news agency reported. The two men were arrested on Dec. 3 as they were trying to pour a white powder into the water. The powder has been sent for examination. Prelimary reports identified the suspects as employees of British Petroleum. The Azeri police said a map of the area was found on the detainees.

"...our Business Intelligence team enables customers to make timely, fact-based decisions that optimise their company's performance and unlock the value of their collective information for competitive advantage."

Statement regarding damage to Headquarters at Hemel Hempstead

12/12/2005 [Stock Exchange Announcements (RNS)]

NORTHGATE INFORMATION SOLUTIONS PLC Statement regarding damage to Headquarters at Hemel Hempstead

Business Continuity Plan Initiated - Northgate Information Solutions plc (www.northgate-is.com), the UK's leading supplier of specialist software and IT services for the Human Resource and Public Service markets, has announced that its head office building has been seriously damaged as a result of yesterday's explosion at Hemel Hempstead.

Four Northgate employees were on-site at the time of the explosion. They were all accounted for soon after the incident. Three were hospitalised as a result of their injuries but they have since been discharged.

The fabric of the building and the fixtures and equipment inside have been badly damaged. The back-up systems that were in place have also been rendered inoperable. Northgate's ability to service its customers has therefore been temporarily affected. As a result, its well developed and previously rehearsed business continuity plan has been initiated. This will allow Northgate to restore its services using remote data centres and the other offices that Northgate has around the country.

Northgate's financial exposure is limited by its insurance policies that provide sufficient cover for the building and its contents as well as for any business interruption. This allows the Board to be confident that the long-term impact of this incident is unlikely to be material.

For further media enquiries, please contact:

Brunswick Group LLP
0207 404 5959

Tom Buchanan/ Craig Breheny/ Phoebe Buckland

Note to Editors - Northgate Information Solutions (www.northgate-is.com), listed on the London Stock Exchange, is the UK's leading supplier of specialist software and IT services for the human resource and public service markets.

The Group has three divisions - Human Resources, Public Service Applications and Managed Services - each with market leading positions. With 25 major UK offices, Northgate employs approximately 3,300 staff, has more than 2,700 large/medium customers and in excess of 6,000 small/medium customers in the UK and Ireland. It works with approximately 90% of UK local authorities, all UK police forces and is moving into the education market.

Board of Directors

* Nick Irens, aged 59, Non-Executive Chairman * Mr Irens joined the Board as Non-Executive Chairman on 7 January 2000. He was previously Chairman of Cannons Group plc. He is a Non-Executive Director of Urbium plc and a Director of a number of other unlisted companies.

* Jack Fryer, aged 65, Non-Executive Director * Mr Fryer was appointed a Non-Executive Director on 15 December 1999. He was previously with Marconi, Lucas Industries, Rank Xerox and Rolls Royce. He is also Chairman of Celoxica Limited.

* Chris Stone, aged 42, Chief Executive Mr Stone was appointed a Director and Chief Executive on 31 October 1999. He was formerly with Accenture where he was an Associate Partner. He previously held senior management positions with Digital Equipment Corporation UK and EDS.

* John Stier, aged 38, Group Finance Director and Company Secretary Mr Stier was promoted to Group Finance Director on 15 May 2003. Prior to joining Northgate, he held senior financial positions with Thames Water plc and Shanks plc.

* David Hodgson, aged 49, Non-Executive Director Mr Hodgson was appointed a Non-Executive Director on 27 May 2004. He is a Partner at General Atlantic Partners, the IT investment firm, which has an approximately 14% stake in Northgate. He serves as a Director of a number of public and private information technology companies.

* Malcolm Aldis, aged 52, Divisional Managing Director, Human Resources Systems Division Mr Aldis was promoted to the Board on 27 May 2004. He has been Managing Director of Northgate's Human Resources Systems division since 1998, and has overseen the rapid growth of this division and the integration of RebusHR into the Group.

* Nick Starritt, aged 52, Non-Executive Director ** Mr Starritt was appointed a Non-Executive Director on 27 May 2004. His experience includes four years as the Group Vice-President of Human Resources for BP plc; he was also a Non-Executive Director of RebusHR before its acquisition by Northgate. He is European Managing Director of Sirota Consulting Limited.

* David Meaden, aged 44, Divisional Managing Director, Public Services Division Mr Meaden was promoted to the Board on 27 May 2004. He has been Managing Director of Northgate's Public Services division since May 2001, with overall responsibility for Northgate's development in the local government and criminal justice markets.

oh and not forgetting:

* Sir Stephen Lander, aged 58, Non-Executive Director * Sir Stephen was appointed a Non-Executive Director on 29 January 2004. He was previously Director-General of the Security Service from 1996 until 2002. He also sits on the Board of HM Customs & Excise, and is an advisor to Detica Limited and De La Rue Limited.
MI5: Speeches by former Directors General Sir Stephen Lander


(21 JUNE 2001) - "Given the perception in some quarters that the Intelligence Agencies are bent on keeping all they have done secret for ever, I am conscious of the irony of chief spook opening a conference advertised as designed to examine "the Open Government Initiative and the potential impact of the Freedom of Information Act". - more

Serious Organised Crime Agency

The creation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the United Kingdom was announced on February 9, 2004. SOCA will counteract organised crime, including the illegal drug trade and people smuggling, and will co-operate closely with the police, intelligence agencies, Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and others.

The agency, expected to be in operation April 2006, is to be formed from the merger of the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the investigative and intelligence sections of Customs and Excise on serious drug trafficking, and the Immigration Service's responsibilities for organised immigration crime. The agency will be funded by central government and is expected to have around 5,000 investigators, chaired by Sir Stephen Lander, former Director-General of MI5.

read this carefully

NOTE: Kremlin owned Rosneft, has hired advisers, including the UK's Brunswick Group, to help it improve its profile in the US and Europe ahead of an expected flotation in London

- Financial Times

Brunswick Group is an international PR firm, with almost a third of the FTSE 100 top firms as clients, they are the biggest financial communications consultancy in the UK. They paid more than £5,000 to the Labour Party for 'tickets for dinners' in 1999-2000 and gave £9,000 in August 2001. The company also donated the services of an employee to the Government to help work on the Financial Services and Markets Bill - legislation which will regulate business in the City and which would provide invaluable information to Brunswick s clients.

The Brunswick Group was founded in 1987. They advise on media and investor relations, mergers and acquisitions, competition and regulatory issues, crisis management, international communications and corporate campaigns. Although Brunswick are reluctant to advertise client details, they represent firms including BT, Marks & Spencer and the Bank of Scotland and range from some of the world s biggest companies, retained on an international mandate, to small and unquoted businesses. They have offices in London, New York, Germany and Johannesburg.

Founder Alan Parker (son of former British Rail chairman Sir Peter Parker) owns 88% of Brunswick's Channel Islands holding company, Wynnstay, giving him control of the agency and a stake in the company worth an estimated £114m. Parker's personal assets are thought to be around £6m. In 2001, Parker recruited Bill Clinton's former aide, James Rubin, to Brunswick's political affairs unit - red-star-research.

In March 2004, the controversy over the exaggeration of the oil and gas reserves of Shell Oil resulted in the resignation of the then chairman, Philip Watts, and Walter van de Vijver, who was responsible for exploration and production. In an attempt to manage the crisis Shell hired the Brunswick Group to help it manage the crisis. "Brunswick has recently come on board, but we don't really say much more about what they do," sourcewatch

Does the idea of deluding an entire city seems, well, a bit like propaganda...?
How about deluding an entire PLANET...

Scenario - LONDON - The government faces a dilemma: It needs people to stay home, feel safe and sympathetic...If it becomes common knowledge that secret state managed terror operations involve black-ops such as bombings, kidnappings, internment & torture, actually being carried out by UK/US Global war on terror coalition to manipulate the Energy markets, the Government, already under pressure from a war in Iraq & unpopular anti-terror laws, will have to face a military/civilian confrontation due to mass protest on the streets and eventually resign under public & international outrage

A shadowy media firm steps in to help orchestrate a sophisticated campaign of mass deception. The company sets up a high-tech "ops center" to convince the public that Terrorist organisation has threatened Energy installations. An accident at a Oil & Gas depot threatens London. As the toxic cloud approaches the city, TV news outlets are provided graphic visuals charting the path of the invisible toxins. Londoners stay indoors, glued to the telly... watching the burning depot in anxious sympathy. At all times the events are cited as accidental...but helpfully raise the price of Oil & Gas

too far-fetched? the above was adapted from this massaged story - You Can't Handle the Truth Psy-ops propaganda goes mainstream.

Strange satellite photo shows toxic cloud as an eye.. is there something else afoot?

Is this for real or is it an operation?

"An Opcentre puts influence, control and power back into the hands of the government and military, giving them greater power to influence the enemy in time of conflict and enhanced access to their citizens during a crisis. For instance, an Opcentre can be designed to override all national radio and TV broadcasts, allowing the government and military to communicate with the public as the need arises. "

Has the whole thing been a PSYOP by Strategic communications labs as part of a government cover-up?

West Texas gas plant explodes

Thu, Dec. 08, 2005 - Associated Press CRANE, Texas - An explosion at a West Texas gas plant near Crane on Wednesday night could be seen as far as 20 miles away and shook homes in Odessa. There were no injuries or deaths in the explosion at the compressor station in Crane County, KOSA-TV in Odessa reported Wednesday.

"The workers had left a few hours earlier," said Darrell Johnston, acting battalion chief of the Odessa fire department. "They were very lucky."

In Crane, members of the Tabernacle Baptist Church were in the middle of Wednesday night services when they felt the blast. "We didn't know what to think," Lee White told the Odessa American for its Thursday editions. "We heard it and we were stunned. We all just kind of looked at each other. We didn't know if it hit the building, part of the roof caved in or what."

Johnston said the fire apparently started in three massive holding tanks, which contained about 10,000 gallons each of drip gasoline, which is an untreated, unrefined gasoline directly from the ground. "There was some liquid runoff that caught a cooling tower on fire," Crane Fire Chief Gary Collier said. "And there were some associate fires caused by the explosion that were pretty easy to put out." Johnston said that the explosion also blew shrapnel into the air. "There was debris all over the plant" he said. "Those containers were an inch thick. There was a lot of heavy metal flying around." dfw.com

Gas Explosion Shakes Texas

Friday, December 16, 2005 - PALO PINTO, Texas - A rural area west of Fort Worth was shaken awake before dawn Friday when a natural gas well exploded near Possum Kingdom Lake, a sheriff's official said.

The pipeline exploded just before 2 a.m. Friday near the intersection of U.S. 180 and Texas 16, about 12 miles west of Palo Pinto. The sound from the blast shook residents for miles around an area, and the flash was visible for 100 miles, Palo Pinto County sheriff's dispatcher Linda Ezell told Associated Press Radio.

The blast formed a large crater and ignited secondary fires for a mile around, but just one worker at a nearby drilling rig was slightly injured, Sheriff Ira Mercer told Dallas-Fort Worth television station WFAA. The secondary fires were been extinguished, but the residual gas continued to burn throughout the predawn hours, Mercer said. Crews from nearby fire departments, the Texas Forest Service and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have been dispatched, he said.

The site was about 60 miles west of Fort Worth. - foxnews

Russian Nuclear Plant Explosion Injures Three

Friday, December 16, 2005 - ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - An explosion ripped through a smelter at a nuclear power plant outside the northern city of St. Petersburg, badly injuring three people, Russia's nuclear agency said Friday.

Rosenergoatom said radiation levels were not affected as the reactor in that part of the Leningrad nuclear plant was undergoing repairs and not in operation at the time. But Thursday's blast raised questions about safety at an onsite scrap metal operation. The blast caused molten metal to burst out of the smelter, where a private company was reprocessing scrap metal, said a plant spokesman, Sergei Averyanov. Averyanov blamed the explosion on violations of production rules.

The Leningrad nuclear plant is in the town of Sosnovy Bor, 400 miles northwest of Moscow and 50 miles west of St. Petersburg, the chief city in the region with 5 million people. The plant has four units, or reactors, and the smelter is located in the complex containing the second one. The second unit was shut down for major repairs in July, the agency said.

"There were no violations of safety levels and operating conditions of the energy units of the Leningrad nuclear plant," Rosenergoatom said in a statement.

One of the reactors at the 30-year-old plant is the same type as the one at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that exploded in Soviet Ukraine in 1986, in the world's worst nuclear accident. The station is the main supplier of electricity to St. Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad, and there are plans to transport some of its power to Finland. Two of the injured had burns over 90 percent of their bodies, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

In March 1992, an accident at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear plant leaked radioactive gases and iodine into the air, according to nuclear watchdog groups. Sosnovy Bor, a center of nuclear technology, was founded 25 years ago and has 60,000 people. The educational level and living standard there is higher than the average in Russia. Almost everyone in Sosnovy Bor is connected with nuclear technology, and most are not native to the region. - Fox News

Shell oil hit by Nigerian attack

22 December 2005 - Oil giant Shell has been forced to delay shipments of Nigerian crude after an apparent dynamite attack on one of its main pipelines in the country. The attack by unknown gunmen killed at least eight people, and is expected to delay deliveries of more than 180,000 barrels per day for up to a week. After the incident, Shell had to shut down two wells that supply the pipeline in the main Niger Delta oil region. Pipelines have been attacked in the region a number of times before.

Some residents in the Niger Delta area have long claimed they do not benefit from the oil wealth, leading to the attacks. In other instances, pipelines have been cut by thieves to siphon off the oil.

Fire continuing

Anglo-Dutch Shell has involved "force majeure" to formally delay the shipments of oil. This is a legal term allowing a company to release itself from a contract due to unforeseen circumstances out of its control.

The attack occurred 50km (31 miles) west of the oil centre of Port Harcourt, said Shell, hitting its Bonny terminal. "There is a team on site now which has boomed off the oil spill, a fire-fighting crew has been mobilised as well to put out the fire," said a Shell spokesman in Nigeria. "We have shut down [the] Bonny flow station in order to enable us to contain the fire, which is still raging, and carry out repairs. "We are cutting back the production and exportation and it also means that we won't be able to provide all the crude we were supposed to."


The attack, which will cut total Nigerian oil exports by 7%, has had a knock-on effect on global oil prices, with both US light crude and the UK's Brent rising. A previously unknown militia group calling itself the Martyrs' Brigade has claimed responsibility for the attack. Andoni region local government chairman Monwan Etete said youths in four speed-boats had warned residents of local fishing villages to leave their homes shortly before the attack on Monday night.

Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil producer, and the largest in Africa.


Nuclear power station scare in UK

23/12/2005 - Emergency services were called to an incident at a Scottish nuclear power station tonight.The alarm was raised at the Torness plant just before 9pm when staff disposing of spent fuel in the ponds at the plant became aware of "anomalous behaviour" of the irradiated substances.

A site incident was immediately declared, and police and Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade were called in. A spokesman for British Energy, which operates the plant, said officials were monitoring the situation, but there was no major panic.

He said: "Nobody has been evacuated and the plant is continuing to generate electricity. "The emergency services were called as is normal in this situation, but we will continue to monitor the fuel pond." He said he could not elaborate on the behaviour of the fuel that was causing them concern. He added that 38 staff were on site when the incident happened and all of them have been accounted for and were continuing to work

The power station is located on the East Lothian coast, 5 miles south east of Dunbar, close to the main A1 road between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

It emerged earlier this month that its lifespan was to be extended by decades. It had been expected to close in 2023, but British Energy said that updating vital equipment could extend its operating life. The firm, which has a £2 billion annual turnover, generates approximately 55% of Scotland's electricity from the Hunterston 'B' nuclear power station in North Ayrshire and Torness itself.

Torness was opened in 1988 and employs about 475 people, pumping about £25m into the local economy.

Last year, top Edinburgh architect Malcolm Fraser put the Torness complex, which can also be seen from the east coast railway line, forward for listed building status from Historic Scotland. IOL

U.S. mine blast may have been in sealed-off area

By Lisa Lambert WASHINGTON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Rescuers sent into a West Virginia mine after last week's fatal explosion found indications that the explosion might have occurred in a part of the mine that was shut down, a member of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said on Wednesday.

"I defer to the investigation team to make sure they see the same things our people did," Ray McKinney, the administrator for coal mine safety and health for the agency, told reporters.

McKinney said it was a "logical assessment" that the explosion happened in the shut-off area.

Twelve men died in the Jan. 2 accident in the Sago mine in Tallmansville. The only survivor, Randal McCloy, is hospitalized in a partial coma.

At the end of a 2-mile-long passageway into the mine were 40-inch-thick seals that had blocked off a decommissioned region of the mine, McKinney said. The seals were installed about three weeks before the explosion, he said.

When rescuers reached that part of the mine, they found the barriers were destroyed, apparently having been blown outward in an indication that the blast came from a closed-off area behind the seals.

By law, seals in mines are checked every seven days. They can be installed for a variety of purposes, McKinney said.

Rescuers then turned down a corridor where they suspected the men were trapped. There, they did not find any wreckage or debris that might have blocked the men's exit or trapped them.

Twelve of the miners were found behind a safety curtain they'd put up at the end of the corridor, McKinney said. One additional man was found earlier and apparently was killed by the initial concussion, he said.

The mining agency announced this week that it is working with state officials to determine the cause of the accident, while members of Congress are calling for their own investigation.

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee will hold a hearing next week on the safety of the West Virginia mine and on mining hazards.

The Sago mine, which employs about 145 miners and produces about 800,000 tonnes of coal annually, was owned by Anker Coal until it was sold to International Coal Group Inc. last November. The mine was issued dozens of citations by federal regulators in recent months, including some for the accumulation of combustible materials such as coal dust and loose coal. -alertnet.org

Twin blow cuts Nigerian oil flow

Nigeria's oil production has been cut by 10% after an explosion and the kidnapping of four foreign oil workers. In the southern Delta region, gunmen in three boats boarded a vessel and seized the men, said a spokesman for oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.

Diplomats say the hostages come from the UK, the US, Honduras and Bulgaria, although Shell has not confirmed this.

Elsewhere in the Delta, a major pipeline that feeds an export terminal has been ruptured by militants.

Overall, production is down by some 220,000 barrels a day - almost 10% of Nigeria's average output of 2.6m barrels.

Meanwhile, the first audit of Nigeria's oil and gas industry has been published and, without finding direct evidence of fraud, it reveals "accounting weaknesses". Discrepancies worth hundreds of millions of dollars were found between what oil companies paid in taxes and what the government said it received.


Kidnappings and pipeline explosions are common in the Niger Delta region, where local groups complain they do not see the benefits of the area's oil wealth. Shell says it is evacuating oil workers from the offshore facility where the kidnapping took place. Ransom demands are often made in similar cases and the hostages are usually released unharmed.

Last month, a pipeline was blown up by dynamite, killing eight people in the same area.

Shell is in dispute with villages near the EA field, where the oil workers were kidnapped, reports the AP news agency. They accuse the oil company of reneging on promises to undertake development projects.

The navy has deployed helicopters and gunboats to track down the hostage-takers, Reuters news agency reports.

EA is closer to land than other Nigerian offshore oilfields, making it more vulnerable to militant attacks, Reuters says. Other oil workers, both foreign and Nigerian, have been seized in the area, before being released. The pipeline was attacked in Brass Creek, leading Shell to suspend exports from the giant Forcados terminal. Nigeria remains plagued by appalling poverty despite being the world's eighth largest oil producer and the largest in Africa. - BBC

Speedboat attack on Nigeria rig

Gunmen using speedboats have clashed with Nigerian soldiers as they attacked an oil platform operated by Shell in the Niger Delta. A Shell spokesman said five workers were injured in the attack on the Benisede oil station in Bayelsa state. There are unconfirmed reports that some soldiers defending the platform and gunmen died in the attack.

On Wednesday gunmen kidnapped four foreign workers from another Shell oil rig in the Niger delta region. The hostages, who are still being held, come from the UK, the US, Honduras and Bulgaria, a Shell spokeswoman said.

Production cut

Elsewhere in the Delta last week, a major pipeline that feeds an export terminal was ruptured by militants. The kidnappings and explosion, the latest in a string of violent incidents in the troubled region, have slashed Shell 's production there by some 220,000 barrels a day - almost 10% of Nigeria's average output of 2.6m barrels.

In a statement about the latest attack, Shell said "heavily armed persons" in attacked the platform early on Sunday. "The attackers invaded the flow station in speedboats, burnt down two staff accommodation blocks, damaged the processing facilities and left," it added.

The injured members of staff have been taken to hospital, the company reported.


Soldiers guarding the platform returned fire, Brig Gen Elias Zamani, commander of a special task force assigned to the area, said. According to Reuters news agency a number of soldiers and assailants died in the attack. In response to the security problems, Shell has said it has begun evacuating more personnel from the Benisede facility and from and neighbouring flow stations.

The Nigerian army, which has thousands of troops in the Delta, has been unable to prevent attacks by militants who object to the country's oil wealth leaving their region. Nigeria is Africa's leading oil exporter and the fifth-biggest source of US oil imports. - bbc

Georgia blames Russia for gas cut-off

By Tom Warner in Kiev - Published: January 22 2006

Anger over Russian energy supplies erupted on Sunday between Tbilisi and Moscow after a series of explosions in Russian territory left Georgia without natural gas and part of its electricity supplies during the coldest spell of winter weather in decades.

Russia said it was investigating the explosions, which struck two gas pipelines and an electric power line early on Sunday morning, as acts of criminal sabotage.

President Mikheil Saakashvili told the Financial Times that most Georgians believed Russia was retaliating against Georgia for trying to achieve energy independence. He said Georgia was planning to replace Russian gas supplies with imports from Iran and Azerbaijan. The explosions took place just as Georgia’s energy minister was flying to Tehran for talks.

Mr Saakashvili’s first reaction had been to blame Moscow, saying on Georgian television: “Georgia is experiencing heavy sabotage by the Russian Federation.

“This was the last chance to really damage us,” Mr Saakashvili said. “This raises questions about the reliability of Russian gas supplies not only for Georgia, but for other countries as well.”

The row over energy supplies is the latest in a series of disputes this month between Russia and its neighbours, including Ukraine and Moldova, whose gas supplies were cut over pricing disputes. The dispute with Ukraine led to shortfalls in supplies of Russian gas to Europe and has sparked a debate in Europe over their future role.

Gazprom, Russia’s national gas company, said it was “amazed” by Georgia’s reaction and pledged to restore supplies “as soon as possible” to Georgia and Armenia, which also lost its gas supplies.

“We feel that politicising this question is impermissible,” said Sergey Kupriyanov, a Gazprom spokesman.

But Mr Saakashvili said the Islamist extremist groups operating in Russia’s north Caucasus had no reason to attack Georgia and separatists from Georgia were incapable of co-ordinated attacks in the Russian republics of North Ossetia, where the gas pipes were hit, and Karachayevo-Cherkessk, where the power line was struck.

Concerns also re-emerged over the weekend about the transit of Russian gas across Ukraine after Kiev and Moscow suddenly postponed a signing ceremony on Saturday where the two sides planned to finalise the January 4 deal that ended their dispute.

Officials in Kiev and Moscow said the hitch was technical and the signing was now planned on Wednesday, but a person involved from the Ukrainian side there were disagreements that could wreck the deal. - FT

Russian UK spy bollox! G8 Nuclear power grab!

UK Spies: Marc Doe. Christopher Pirt. Paul Crompton. Andrew Fleming - er...don't give up the day job...

Putins now totalitarian Russia wants a crackdown on all Non Govermental organisations working in the country - These NGO's range from humanitarian to legal / human rights issues...Many NGO's are believed to be infiltrated and/or sponsored by State actors as a method used in the control of organized dissent...a stunt like this would present Putin with an opportunity to crack down on ALL dissent - especially those NGO's or other groups, which have not been compromised... So if looked at in this context...is Blair actually taking part in a G8 energy cartel stage-managed political theatre... which helps solidify Putins ever emerging Police state? and creates an impression of tit for tat spying in G8 member countries...which enables a crackdown across the board?

"We need to create the prototype of a global infrastructure that will give all interested countries equal access to nuclear energy, while stressing reliable compliance with the requirements of the non-proliferation regime, of course." - Putin more

Gas blast in north China coal mine kills 23

BEIJING, Feb 2 (Reuters) - A gas explosion at a Chinese coal mine has killed at least 23 miners, state media reported on Thursday, in the latest accident to hit the world's deadliest mining industry.

Another 53 people were hospitalised after inhaling toxic gases from the blast at the Sihe Coal Mine in the northern province of Shanxi, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Nearly 700 miners were working underground at the time of the explosion on Wednesday, the report said, citing an unnamed official with the provincial coal mine safety supervision bureau. Search and rescue work ended early on Thursday.

The government has been trying to clean up China's mining industry, which killed more than 5,500 in the country in 2005, but a spate of accidents has made a mockery of safety campaigns.

Booming demand and high prices for coal -- which accounts for about 70 percent of China's energy -- mean regulations are often ignored, production is pushed beyond safe limits and mines that have been shut down reopened illegally.

The central government says local officials, who have turned to mines as a source of revenue, are sabotaging the campaign to close unsafe mines.

China produces about one-third of the world's coal but accounted for more than 80 percent of global coal mine deaths in 2004 and the death rate at its mines is 100 times that for pits in the United States.

Shanxi, where Wednesday's blast happened, is China's leading coal producing province and the Sihe Coal Mine, part of the state-owned Jincheng Mining Group, is one of its largest collieries, producing 10.8 million tonnes a year.

Shanxi has already closed more than 4,000 coal mines and punished some 1,200 involved in illegal mining, Xinhua said, citing the Shanxi provincial government.

Despite the clean-up efforts and central government orders for officials to pull out of investments in mines to avoid collusion with mine owners, mining accidents in Shanxi alone killed 468 people last year, Xinhua said. - alertnet.org

Captain Wardrobes

Down with Murder inc.