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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 15:56 GMT
Buncefield victims in court move
Aerial view of Buncefield blaze
Some residents still can't return home because of the damage
Victims of the Buncefield oil depot blasts have taken their battle for compensation to the High Court.

Some 2,700 claims that could be worth millions of pounds have been filed by residents, businesses and insurers.

A group of 146 claimants is hoping to bring a class action against Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd, a joint venture run by Total and Texaco.

But a High Court official adjourned until at least October a hearing on whether to permit the class action.

Charles Gibson QC, counsel for Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd, said claims were being processed and that it was "important that sufficient time is allowed for that process to continue, unhindered by litigation".

Senior Master Turner said he wanted a progress report by the middle of July.

Solicitor Des Collins, who represents the 146 claimants, said a class action could still go ahead if some claims were outstanding in October.

Big losses

The action would aim to recover "uninsured losses" resulting from the December 11 explosions and fire lasting several days, he said.

For example, residents whose homes were damaged may have found they were underinsured.

After the explosion happened, I was in a very bad way - I was constantly crying.
Local resident Neena Kent

Some are still staying in hotels and face extra bills associated with living away from home.

Mr Collins could not give a figure for the amount of compensation being sought, but said it would "certainly go into the millions".

Neena Kent, who is one of the claimants, lives in a flat near the Buncefield depot.

She told the BBC News website that her patio doors and a bedroom window were blown in by the blasts.

"After the explosion happened I was in a very bad way - I was constantly crying," said Ms Kent, a 33-year-old trainee solicitor.

"It's your home, you don't expect something like that to happen."

Firefighters tackling the blaze at the depot
The depot fire blazed for days after the initial explosions

Dave Woodage said his courier business has suffered a 20% drop in turnover because of the explosions, resulting in losses of around 300,000 to 400,000.

His company, Cheetah Couriers, was located in offices on an industrial estate 400m from the depot.

He said he had to move premises after the blasts, as did many other businesses that were clients of his company.

Some of them have since left the region, causing a slowdown in trade, Mr Woodage said.

Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited welcomed Senior Master Turner's decision not to create a group legal action Friday.

"HOSL believed it was too early for the type of GLO order requested to be made because the cause of the incident is not known and liability has not yet been determined," the company said in a statement.

Buncefield blaze 'threatens jobs'
19 Feb 06 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts


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