August 18, 2008

Nearly a Year After Steelworks Blast, Frightening ‘Leaked’ Footage Shows One Man’s Lucky Escape

By Robin Turner

A FRIGHTENING YouTube video showing a man escaping in the nick of time from a huge explosion is believed to be "leaked" CCTV footage from the Port Talbot steel works.

The short film, currently available for all to see on the world- wide video sharing network, shows am an walking casually past a giant turbine.

Then some ominous noises are heard coming from the huge machine.

The man is then seen running past the now-whining turbine for the safety of a doorway.

A second later the turbine explodes in a mass of flame and smoke then the film, entitled Margam B, ends.

Text accompanying the film claims it is footage from the Margam power plant at Corus' Port Talbot steelworks.

A spokesman for Corus said the steel firm had a strict company policy of not allowing employees to view sites such as YouTube when at work.

Despite being asked to comment on the video the Corus spokesman insisted yesterday: "We cannot comment on something we have not seen."

But yesterday, former Port Talbot Mayor Tony Taylor, a blast furnace man at the town's steel plant for many years said: "I've heard about the YouTube video and we believe it to be leaked CCTV footage of a blower (turbine blowing air into the steel mill) accident at our Margam power plant last year.

It's unfortunate someone saw fit to leak this film to the internet as the incident was fully and thoroughly investigated.

"The results of that investigation were given to the world steel community so everyone in the industry would know we had a blower failure and what the causes were.

"To anyone worried about seeing this footage on their computer I want to emphasise we have done everything possible to ensure nothing like it ever happens again. And hopefully, nothing like it will happen at any other steel plant now the information has been shared."

The incident happened at the Port Talbot worksonSeptember21last year and a plume of smoke was seen to emerge from the three-mile- long plant which straddles the M4 from Margam to Taibach.

But Mr Taylor said: "This would not have been a threat to anyone outside the steelworks and the main thing was, no-one was hurt."

The Corus spokesman added: "Because of our policies we are unable to say today whether this is film from our Port Talbot plant or not. I can confirm we did have a turbine failure at the works on September 21 last year and fortunately no-one was injured and that matter has been fully investigated."

In 2006, Corus, now owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, was ordered to pay more than pounds 3m for breaching health and safety laws following a massive blast furnace explosion at its Port Talbot works which killed three workers.

Corus admitted failing to ensure worker safety. Twelve other workers were injured in the blast in November 2001.

The explosion destroyed blast furnace five, lifting it off its base and blasting out 200 tonnes of molten steel and hot gasses.

Len Radford, 53, from Maesteg, Andrew Hutin, 20, and 25-year-old Stephen Galsworthy, from Aberavon, Port Talbot, died in the blast.

Yesterday, Andrew Hutin's father Mike, who works as a safety facilitator at the Port Talbot works, said he too understood theYou Tube film was from the Margam Power Plant incident last September.

He said: "Apparently someone just got out as the turbine blew and escaped without injury. Though I've not viewed it so I can't be certain, I've been told it's CCTV footage from the works and somebody had a lucky escape."

However, Mr Hutin said he believed as far as safety was concerned the Port Talbot works was "moving in the right direction".

He said: "I think Uday (Uday Kumar Chaturvedi, managing director of Corus Strip Products) and Philipe Varin (company chief executive) are definitely committed to improving safety. We've still got some way to go but safety is now a priority."

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