AN OIL refinery boss has offered “deep regret and sincere apologies” for failings that led to the deaths of four people and left another seriously injured.

The storage tank explosion at the-then Chevron plant on June 2, 2011, claimed the lives of four workers: Dennis Riley, aged 52; Robert Broome, aged 48; Julie Jones, aged 54, and 33-year-old Andrew Jenkins died in the accident. A fifth worker Andrew Phillips suffered life-changing injuries.

A statement was read out by Mark Ellison QC, barrister for the refinery, on behalf of the general manager at the time of the incident, Greg Hanngi.

Mr Hanngi said that the company’s failings had “let down” the victims and their families but accepted that merely saying sorry would be of no comfort.

B&A Contractors have also been in the dock alongside Valero Energy UK, the company that now owns the Pembroke refinery.

Both companies pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety rules when they appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates court on October 11 of last year.

B&A Contract’s barrister, Prashant Propat QC, also offered apologies on behalf of the company, who were employed to carry out tank-cleaning work at the refinery.

Mr Propat said the events were a "horrific, tragic, preventable incident," stressing that the workers had done nothing wrong and that the fault lay with the company alone.

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On behalf of Valero, Mr Ellison said they accepted that there were “systemic failures” confirming that was no evidence of a risk assessment having been carried out on the changes of handling amines.

Amines are used to remove carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide from the refinery process.

Mr Ellison said there had been a failure to address the cause of contamination of the storage tank following the introduction of a new system in 1998.

The storage tanks had also been mis-categorised in a 2008 review as non-hazardous, the barrister accepted.

The barrister added that working procedures for the job were in place but were not being followed.

B&A’s barrister, Mr Propat, also accepted they had not followed their own procedures.

B&A also accepted they had failed to provide proper supervision, failed to ensure key staff were aware of the relevant industry standards and had provided a non-earthed hose for the pumping work.

However, Mr Propat said it was Chevron’s responsibility to ensure the tank was safe before B&A started work.

The judge said the job should have been stopped at a number of occasions before the explosion.

The court heard a gas test on the day showed high levels of flammable vapours, which had been written down and then thrown away.

Also, the man originally in charge of overseeing the job was on holiday and had said the job should be delayed until he returned, but this was linked to another tank on the site.

Judgement on the case is expected in June.