Firm fined after Liverpool gas leak caused major disruption

Liverpool Magistrates' Court
Image caption A construction firm was fined at Liverpool Magistrates' Court following a gas leak in January 2012

A construction firm has been fined £30,000 after a major gas leak disrupted Liverpool city centre.

Hundreds of people were evacuated near the former Lewis's department store in January 2012 after a gas supply pipe was damaged during demolition work.

Merepark Construction Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

An investigation found it failed to warn the demolition firm about the gas supply.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard Merepark was the main contractor for a multi-million-pound project to convert the building on Ranelagh Street into a new hotel, shops and offices as part of the Central Village development.

A gas supply pipe, clearly visible from street level, was damaged by falling debris during demolition work.

Train station closed

After a worker smelt gas, emergency services evacuated the building because of the explosion risk.

Liverpool Central train station was closed for most of the afternoon along with shops and local businesses.

Merepark was convicted of two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the safety of workers or the public.

The company, now in voluntary liquidation, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £8,490 prosecution costs.

HSE inspector Catherine Willars said the company failed to take any action to disconnect the gas supply. She said a single spark could have set alight the leaking gas and caused a major explosion.

She said the the incident caused "significant disruption and hit the income of local businesses."

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