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Charges laid over coolstore explosion at Tamahere

26 September 2008

Charges laid over coolstore explosion at Tamahere

The Department of Labour has laid charges against several parties in relation to the explosion at IcePak Coolstores in Tamahere, Hamilton, on April 5, 2008. The charges were laid under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and associated regulations, and were filed in the Hamilton District Court today.

The names of the parties charged, and details of the charges, will be available at the Hamilton District Court on the date of the first court appearance, Department of Labour Waikato-Eastern Regional Manager Ona de Rooy said.

"I understand that there is strong public interest in the outcome of this investigation. But the department must respect the court process, including any rights the parties may have to seek name suppression or other court orders. So at this stage we can't provide any further information about the charges."

No date has been set for the first court hearing, but generally this occurs about six weeks after charges are laid. Until the legal process and any coroner's hearing are completed, the department's investigation report cannot be released publicly.

Ms de Rooy says the filing of charges completed one part of the department's work. "We will now continue with our work to identifying any steps that might be taken to prevent a similar event occurring in the future.

"The department has previously said that a flammable refrigerant was used at IcePak Coolstores. As part of our ongoing workplace safety work, we will look at whether any changes are needed to existing safety systems, industry practices or the regulatory environment covering refrigeration and flammable refrigerants. To do this we will work with other agencies and industry organisations."

The department has already prepared and distributed a fact sheet for the refrigeration industry that summarises the existing safety controls for flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants, and shows where to get detailed safety information.


Editor's Note
As this matter is now before the court no interviews or further comment will be provided.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 promotes the prevention of harm to people at work or in the vicinity of a place of work. The Department of Labour administers and enforces the Act.

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