Four workers killed in explosion at UK water treatment plant – About Your Online Magazine


A large explosion hit a large metal tank used to store treated biosolids on Thursday morning, killing four workers. The force of the explosion at a Geneco water recycling center in Avonmouth, near Bristol, was so great that one of the bodies was recovered from a lake 150 meters away.

The four who died were named on Friday night. They were Luke Wheaton, 16, who had recently started an internship at the factory, Michael James, 64, Brian Vickery, 63, and Raymond White, 57. The BBC reported “It looks like Mr. James was a contractor who worked at the site, while Mr. Vickery and Mr. White were employees of Wessex Water … ”A fifth worker suffered life-threatening injuries.

Geneco’s website in Avonmouth (credit: Google Maps)

Workers were on the roof of the tank when it exploded, shattering it. An eyewitness told the media, “They didn’t stand a chance.” Others described the explosion as shaking nearby buildings. A warehouse worker said he and his colleagues were trapped while the walls shook. Another said: “I thought a bomb went off. It was scary “.

Within minutes, the police declared a major incident while six firefighters rushed to the scene. Specialized search and rescue teams from distant places like Exeter were deployed, using heat search cameras to search for victims.

Although no cause has yet been identified for the explosion, which will be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Chief Inspector Mark Runacres of the Avon and Somerset Police said there were “no continuing public safety concerns”.

Geneco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wessex Water, takes “treated sludge” from its adjacent sewage treatment plant, as well as food residues from homes and supermarkets, to convert to biogas, fertilizers and other products. In the process of creating the fertilizer, large quantities of highly explosive methane gas are produced.

O Bristol Live The news site cited comments from Tony Ennis, “an expert in the field of fire and explosion hazards for over 25 years.” He said: “The explosion appears to have occurred in a silo that stores the production of an anaerobic digester.

“The waste is organic, for example, food waste, and is ‘digested’ to create methane gas, which is the main component of natural gas – the gas can be used to generate electricity.”

“It seems likely that there was methane gas in the upper space of the tank.

“Depending on the amount of methane, the pressure developed in the tank can be up to 8 bar. The pressure in a car tire is 2 to 2.5 bar.

“The tank was not designed for this pressure and appears to have failed catastrophically at the junction between the roof and the cylindrical structure.”

Paula Fonseca