Report on chemical leak damages Shell's image

A runaway reaction at a chemical plant operated by a Shell subsidiary which resulted in a major pollution emergency was caused by serious flaws in process development and safety procedures, according to a report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).1

The incident occurred on 7 December 1991, when 3.5 tonnes of chemicals were emitted from a reactor at a works operated by International Biosynthetics (IBIS) near Widnes in Cheshire. IBIS was a wholly owned Shell subsidiary until late last year. Last December, the company was prosecuted by the HSE under its new name, Namepack, and fined £4,000 for the incident.

The vapour cloud formed by the release affected 60 people off-site, 35 of

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