Norfolk

AgChem Access seeks to reclaim £2m costs from HSE over chemical ban

A Norfolk chemicals firm is seeking to reclaim £2m in costs and losses from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE banned movement of £2.6m of stock over a badly stored chemical at a warehouse used by AgChem Access.

A HSE inspector imposed the ban which "froze" the business for eight weeks. The firm sought a judicial review to get the ban overturned.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was inappropriate to comment as an inquiry was under way.

AgChem Access director Nick Gooch said enforcement orders preventing movement of its agricultural chemicals stock from warehouses in the UK "nearly brought the company down".

It lost customers, who had to find other suppliers, Mr Gooch said.

Dialogue 'refused'

He said: "A fire officer found that metal containers of aluminium phosphide at a third party warehouse had been stacked on shelves when they should have been stored in a second metal container.

"Instead of coming to us, and we would have ensured storage complied with safety rules, he went straight to the HSE.

"They imposed a blanket ban on movement of all our stock held in all our stores.

"This effectively froze our business in the UK. We had stores in Europe which continued in business but 75% of our work had to stop.

"Customers all over the world could not get the chemicals they needed from us so had to go elsewhere."

Two days before a hearing at the High Court, the HSE lifted the ban and withdrew its defence, but judges awarded AgChem Access costs.

Mr Gooch said: "We tried for weeks to get into dialogue with the HSE but they kept saying it was inappropriate.

"It was very frustrating. All this could have been settled weeks ago."

The HSE said it was looking into the case.

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