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Understanding the Buncefield Explosion

30 August 2007

The first open forum discussion by experts of a key report into the Buncefield oil storage depot incident, which led to one of Europe's biggest peacetime explosions, is to be held at Cardiff University (20 September).

On 11 December, 2005 a number of explosions occurred at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in Hertfordshire, which devastated the site and surrounding buildings. More than 40 people were injured; yet amazingly there were no fatalities. The fire burned for several days, destroying most of the site and emitting large clouds of black smoke into the atmosphere.

As part of the post-Buncefield investigation, an ‘Explosion Mechanism Advisory Group’ (EMAG) was set up to advise the Buncefield ‘Major Incident Investigation Board’ on the work that would be required to explain the severity of the Buncefield explosion. The Group’s report was first published on 16 August.

The Cardiff School of Engineering is to host the 25th anniversary meeting of the UK Explosion Liaison Group (19 and 20 September), which will include the first open discussion session on the Buncefield Explosion Mechanism Advisory Group’s report, with a panel that includes experts and several of the Group’s members. The discussion will consider the implications of the report.

Professor Phil Bowen, Cardiff School of Engineering said: "Following an overview of the Explosion Mechanism Advisory Group report, I am anticipating an open and lively discussion session in the company of several of the advisory group members. It is fitting that this first open discussion of the report should take place during 25th anniversary meeting of the UK Explosion Liaison Group."

A limited number of places have been reserved for members of the media to attend the meeting.

ENGIN3 Buncefield

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Notes to Editors:

1. Members of the media are invited to attend the Open-Forum Discussion on the Explosion Advisory Group’s findings on the morning on September 20 in Birt Acres Lecture theatre, Bute Building, Cardiff University. Please notify the Public Relations Office in advance if you plan to attend.

2. For more information concerning Buncefield, see

3.Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at:

4.Cardiff School of Engineering

Engineering has been taught at Cardiff since 1893. Today, the School of Engineering is regarded as one of the top centres for engineering with teaching and research facilities ranked amongst the best in the British university system following a £35million refurbishment in recent years.

Staff members are active in most fields of engineering research. These are split into three main groups: civil engineering; electrical, electronic and systems engineering; and mechanical engineering. Its research has earned the highest ratings in government assessments.

Research expertise within mechanical engineering includes: control and dynamics; emissions, effluents and processes; energy; renewable energy; fluid power; materials; thermal fluids; and tribology.

In addition, the School hosts a number of officially designated specialist research centres.

5. For more information concerning UKELG and 25th Anniversary meeting, see

Further Information:

Emma Darling
Public Relations Office,
Cardiff University,
029 2087 4499

Professor Phil Bowen,
School of Engineering,
Cardiff University
029 20874 688