Avonmouth explosion shines spotlight on biosolids

By Dominic Ellis
Incident also leads to calls for more blast-proof structures near hazardous facilities...

An explosion at Wessex Water’s Bristol water recycling centre, at Avonmouth, Bristol on Thursday, which claimed four lives, has shone the spotlight on biosolids health and safety and led to calls for more blast-proof structures near hazardous facilities.

The explosion happened at 11:20 GMT in a silo that held treated biosolids. 

Chief Executive Colin Skellett said: “We are absolutely devastated that the tragic incident at our site earlier today has resulted in four fatalities. Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved. We are working with the Health and Safety Executive to understand what happened and why.”

Adam Fox, Director of Mason UK - specialists in vibration isolation products - says the incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of engineering buildings to endure this type of blast. 

"When commissioning hazardous buildings where chemicals and high temperatures are involved, structural engineers should work closely with a blast control specialist, to account for potential accidents like this one.

"While most buildings will never need to rely on these increased measures, as shown by yesterday’s events, things can go wrong. If you ensure a building can endure a blast force in the design stages, survivability of inhabited structures such as offices and nearby houses is maximised as people have more time to exit the building.

“Let this tragic incident validate the importance of building blast-proof structures near hazardous facilities.” 

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