Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Robin Hood Airport explosive failings 'risked safety'

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been criticised for safety failings which could have caused an explosion at Robin Hood Airport.

UKBA staff unsafely unloaded and examined explosives at the airport despite being warned not to, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said.

The HSE said if the ammunition had been dropped it may have detonated.

UKBA has accepted a Crown Censure, the equivalent of a prosecution of a government body, from the HSE.

The HSE said 10 people were present and other aircraft nearby when the incident happened at the airport near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in November 2009.

'Significant risk'

A flight carrying anti-tank ammunition had landed at the airport and UKBA workers were told by their manager to carry out checks on the load.

The aircraft pilot warned UKBA staff the crates of ammunition were explosive and should not be examined, the HSE said.

However they opened the crates and partially removed some of the explosive devices from their protective packaging.

A HSE investigation found UKBA had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment to enable them to complete the checks safely.

A spokesman said: "There was a significant risk that the ammunition could detonate if it was dropped which could have detonated the whole cargo.

"As a result, members of the public, airport workers and nearby aircraft were all put at risk on that day."

By accepting the censure, UKBA has formally acknowledged there were health and safety failings.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: "We deeply regret this incident. As acknowledged by the Health and Safety Executive, we have already made significant changes to the way we manage health and safety to avoid a similar incident occurring in the future."

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