Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Friday, 17 August 2007 12:43 UK

Blast firms admit safety charges

Stockline site
Nine people were killed in the blast in Maryhill

The operators of a Glasgow plastics factory where nine people died in an explosion three years ago have pleaded guilty to health and safety charges.

ICL Tech Ltd and ICL Plastics admitted four charges at the High Court in Glasgow. They will be sentenced later.

The court was earlier told the blast happened after petroleum gas ignited in a pipe which had been corroding over the years at the Stockline factory.

Relatives of six of the victims have renewed calls for a public inquiry.

In a statement, the families of Annette Doyle, Peter Ferguson, Kenneth Murray, Tracey McErlane, Tim Smith and Ann Trench said their lives had been on hold since the explosion.

"We have finally found out what caused the deaths and how our loved ones died," they said.

There are no adequate words to express our feeling of deep sadness
ICL statement

"However, no court case or penalty imposed by the courts will bring our families back or provide an explanation as to why they died, there is no explanation that could satisfactorily or rationally justify why nine individuals left their homes on the morning of 11 May, 2004, never to return again.

"It is now time for the concerns of the families to be taken into account and we continue to call for a wide-reaching public inquiry that provides us with answers as to why these health and safety breaches occurred."

ICL said it had cooperated closely with the Crown and the Health and Safety Executive.

'Lasting tribute'

"There are no adequate words to express our feeling of deep sadness, and the heartfelt sympathies of all within the companies are with the families who lost a loved one, and those who were injured.

"Despite difficult circumstances, we have been able to provide support for employees unable to return to work and remember colleagues we lost by creating a memorial garden.

"The memorial was designed as a lasting tribute to reflect the families' wishes."

Rescue workers searched for 72 hours for survivors

Prosecutor Angus Stewart QC told the court that the explosion was the worst factory accident in Scotland since the James Watt Street fire in Glasgow in 1968, in which 22 people died.

"In the ICL tragedy, nine people died in the explosion and subsequent building collapse, but more were also pulled from the rubble very seriously injured," he said.

"Others have been left permanently traumatised although without physical injury.

"It is particularly poignant that individuals are killed and maimed in the course of their day's work."

He said the companies had not done everything possible to prevent the "tragedy".

GLASGOW BLAST VICTIMS
Margaret Brownlie, 49, Strathaven
Annette Doyle, 34, Glasgow
Peter Ferguson, 52, Kilbarchan
Thomas McAulay, 41, Mount Florida, Glasgow
Stewart McColl, 60, West Kilbride
Tracey McErlane, 27, Possilpark, Glasgow
Kenneth Murray, 45, Paisley
Timothy Smith, 31, Johnstone
Ann Trench, 34, Colston, Glasgow

Mr Stewart said the circumstances which led to the explosion had unfolded over a period of 35 years.

He said the views on risk assessment, and the physical characteristics of the plant, had changed over this period.

Mr Stewart added that a written narrative setting out the circumstances of the tragedy would be read out when the case returns to court on 27 August.

It is expected that the hearing will last for two days.

Catherine Dyer, area procurator fiscal for Glasgow, said the guilty plea had spared the survivors and relatives of victims the "additional trauma" and uncertainty of a trial.

Nine people died and many more were injured in the blast in the Maryhill area of the city.

The red-brick factory collapsed with the force of the explosion, trapping people in the rubble.

Survivors were pulled from the wreckage in a massive operation by emergency services which lasted several days.

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