A major emergency training exercise at the site of the 2005 Buncefield explosion has been declared a huge success.
Emergency services pre-warned the public that the operation – dubbed ‘Exercise Titan’ – was merely a drill intended to practise rapid responses to large-scale incidents such as the enormous fire at the BP oil terminal nine years ago.
The multi-agency set-up involved 15 fire crews, including teams from neighbouring counties Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, as well as other emergency services, partner agencies and BP staff.
Chief fire officer and director of community protection Roy Wilsher, who was at the scene on Thursday, said: “Everyone involved from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, BP and other blue light colleagues worked as a team to deal with the scenario, which started as a leak of 3.5 million litres of jet fuel from a tank and escalated.
“I was very impressed with the response to this demanding exercise, which included an explosion, dealing with casualties and coping with a failed water supply.”
The Environment Agency and police counter-terrorism officers also had a role in the exercise, while volunteers from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church in Hemel Hempstead provided refreshments for the 100-plus participants.
Herts county council cabinet member for community safety Richard Thake said: “I know we all hope that we never face another incident like the 2005 Buncefield fire, but if we did, training exercises like this ensure that Hertfordshire’s emergency response is the best it can be.”
A BP spokesman said: “It is important that we have the opportunity to test our emergency procedures in as realistic a situation as possible. Safety of our staff and of our nearby neighbours are always our first priority.”
The Buncefield terminal reopened in April 2008 following the explosion – which was the UK’s largest peacetime fire.