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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Corus admits blast blame
Corus steel plant in Port Talbot ablaze after explosion
Corus is rebuilding the wrecked furnace
Steel giant Corus has admitted civil liability for an explosion which killed three workers at a south Wales plant last year.

The company now faces an estimated 1m compensation payout to the victims' relatives and to 12 injured men, after admitting civil liability.

Blast furnace number five at the giant steelworks in Port Talbot was ripped apart by three explosions on 8 November, 2001.


It's about Corus facing up to its responsibility - we apologise unreservedly

Corus spokesman
The company could also face criminal action with results of a police investigation pending, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) due to decide in February on any prosecutions.

Steelworkers Andrew Hutin, 20, Stephen Galsworthy, 25, and Len Radford, 53, were all killed in the explosion which deeply scarred the local community, dominated as it is by the sprawling steelworks.

Molten metal

The HSE has said the explosion may have been caused when boiling water entered from the blast furnace, causing a pressure build-up to break up the facility, spewing a shower of molten metal around the working environment.

Corus' admission does not affect the outcome of the investigations by the HSE or South Wales Police.

Findings of an internal company investigation into the blasts are being considered by an independent panel.

Work to rebuild the wrecked facility - at a cost of 75m - began in July and is expected to be completed by the New Year, easing fears over the continuation of production at Port Talbot.

The plant is Corus's one major facility left in south Wales following the huge cutbacks at Ebbw Vale and Llanwern announced early last year.

Levels of compensation will be settled in talks between Corus' insurers and lawyers representing the families - due to take place within the next couple of days.

'Unreserved apologies'

A Corus spokesman said: "It's about Corus facing up to its responsibility. We have a duty of care for those working on our sites.

"We will accept that duty of care for people injured, we have admitted liability, it acts as a trigger to start compensation payments process.

"We are keen that these payments and interim payments are made as soon as possible.

"We are sorry for what happened and we apologise unreservedly."

The blast's worst-affected survivor Peter Clement, 51, of Gorseinon near Swansea, was looking into the furnace when it blew up, suffered 82% burns and was laying in a coma at death's door for three months.

"It is wonderful the company has accepted liability," he said.

"It has been a long process which has been upsetting and frustrating for some of the families."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Wyre Davies
"Corus has admitted limited liability"
BBC Wales' Hywel Griffith
"It was a moment no-one in this proud community will ever forget."
Steelworks Blast

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