Glasgow Evening Times: Union demands inquiry into two deaths on oil rig: “A UNION leader today called for a fatal accident inquiry after oil giant Shell admitted charges over the gas poisoning deaths of two Scots on a North Sea rig.” (ShellNews.net) Posted 1 April 05
A UNION leader today called for a fatal accident inquiry after oil giant Shell admitted charges over the gas poisoning deaths of two Scots on a North Sea rig.
Keith Moncrieff, 45, from Tayside, and Sean McCue, 22, from Fife, were on the Brent Bravo platform, 116 miles north-east of Lerwick, when gas escaped in September 2003.
Sixty of the 123 workers on the rig were evacuated by helicopter and a doctor was airlifted from another platform to treat the two - but they later died.
Jake Molloy, general secretary of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, said questions remained unanswered about events leading up to the incident.
He was speaking after Shell yesterday admitted breaching three health and safety charges following the incident.
The hearing at Stonehaven Sheriff Court was deferred until next month.
Mr Molloy said: "It is no surprise that Shell has pleaded guilty because by doing so it avoids a lengthy, drawn-out and quite possibly exposed hearing.
"This only serves to stifle and prevent the details of what occurred, both in the run-up to the incident and the incident itself.
"These are questions the families and the workers would really like answered."
He said a fatal accident inquiry should be held to establish what happened.
"I know the fiscal's office are often reluctant to stage a fatal accident inquiry when a prosecution has occurred but in this case it is absolutely in the public interest to prevent this from happening again," he said.
A Shell spokesman confirmed the firm had pleaded guilty to three amended charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
But he would not comment further as legal proceedings were still under way.
Graham Tran, officer for offshore workers with Amicus, said: "We welcome the guilty pleas but we fear the penalties may not provide sufficient punishment for the loss of two lives.
"It is vital we have corporate manslaughter legislation that imposes the most severe penalties, including jail terms, on those senior people who have responsibility for ensuring the highest health and safety standards for their workers.
"While the families are welcoming the pleas because they will not have to go through any further ordeal, if history is to repeat itself then all these people will get is a slap on the wrists.
"Amicus was part of a delegation to the Health and Safety Executive in Aberdeen in March 2003 where we raised concerns about lack of maintenance and other issues on Shell platforms and in particular the Brent Field, including Brent Bravo.
"It is worrying that no strong action was taken at that time, and then - only five months later - we had this avoidable incident, resulting in the death of two workers."
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