Rhodia, now known as “Solvay Solutions Limited” finally went to court seven years after the incident involving the release of toxic gases from their Trinity Street site. They were fined nearly £500,000 after the HSE prosecution.
WHAT DID WE ASK
“I refer to previous request from April 2015 involving the chemical fire at Rhodia Trinity Street (now Solvay) involving white phosphorus/phosphine and its associated breakdown products.
It has now been reported that a successful prosecution has been undertaken and the firm fined £500,000
Can I therefore request the full report into this incident given that in previous requests for the same document you have cited exemptions of having to wait for the outcome of a prosecution. There are therefore no valid reasons for withholding this report from the public domain.”
WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
The HSE responded by refusing the request! The following explanation was given by Kay Brookes of the HSE.
According to Kay Brookes, the investigation contained 1700 records, 25 witness statements, drawings and specialist reports. She refused the request on two exemptions of the Environmental Information regulations 12 (5) (a) relating to National security/public Safety and 12 (5) (e) Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information.
I was however invited to narrow the scale of the request which I then did. This involved making another request.
Rhodia/Solvay hazard risk investigation
WHAT DID WE ASK
I recently requested the final report of your investigation into this 2009 incident which was refused.
A number of points are made in Kay Brookes response, one of them being that I could refine the request which would not be “manifestly unreasonable” if I narrowed down the information sort from the extensive documentation that she cited.
I therefore request the following, which I hope is both reasonable and in the public interest. I believe that the information requested to be easily obtainable from your report which is not manifestly unreasonable in terms of time. I also refer to an HSE press release on your website which directly quotes Kay Brookes.
“HSE inspector Kay Brookes, said: “This was a long and complex case, but at the heart of it lay the fact that this company’s actions caused an incident that affected the public and workers.
“The loss of containment and failure in Solvay’s systems caused huge disruption and the outcomes could have been far worse. ”
(I) The conclusion of the report investigation. If this is too large to produce, please state how many pages it runs into.
(ii) Information presented in the report documentation in relation to the risk to human health of the “dangerous” chemicals released in the incident .
For the record, I am NOT seeking witness statements- except if they relate to expert witnesses on the matter of subject (ii). Any names here could easily be redacted, to answer Ms Brookes points in the previous request.
I am NOT seeking any commercially confidential information relating to Rhodia/Solvay’s processes.
I am Not seeking diagrams and drawings or any site maps.
I do not believe the information to be in breach of section 12 (5) (e) National Security. This incident, the chemicals involved and the site itself are widely known and have been reported upon, not least upon your own press release. The danger posed to the public however has not been spelt out very clearly. I am therefore in this request looking for some evidence that you presented in legal argument about that potential risk and how “the outcomes could have been far worse.”
WHAT DID THEY KNOW
The HSE responded after a delay. The report split into two parts was heavily redacted under certain exemptions applied by Kay Brookes of the HSE.
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
We have looked at aspects of the report and redactions at the following blog post.
Some of the information redacted under this request is already in the public domain, having been reported to The European Commission, by the HSE! We have looked at this oddity HERE.
We will be taking this request to the information commissioner to hopefully get some of the redactions removed.