South West Wales

Anger 10 years after fatal Port Talbot steelworks blast

The father of a steelworker killed in an explosion at Port Talbot 10 years ago says he is still angry nobody has ever been brought to justice.

Michael Hutin's 20-year-old son Andrew was one of three workers who died at the Corus plant on 8 November, 2001.

A memorial service is being held on the 10th anniversary on Tuesday.

Corus paid £3m in fines and costs for breaching health and safety laws but Mr Hutin said no individuals were ever held accountable.

The explosion in 2001 destroyed blast furnace number five, lifting it off its base and blasting out 200 tonnes of steel slag and hot gasses.

The blast was caused by leaking water building up inside the furnace.

Andrew Hutin, 20, and Stephen Galsworthy, 25, from Port Talbot, were killed, along with Len Radford, 53, from Maesteg.

Twelve men were also injured at the Corus plant, which was taken over by Indian firm Tata Steel in 2007.

Michael Hutin, who now works in the safety department at the steelworks, said he was still angry and frustrated at the fact no individual was ever prosecuted.

'Not accountable'

"We haven't had justice," he said. "Ultimately I always expected that the persons who made the decisions - it wasn't Tata who made the decisions or Corus, as it was - it was the individuals working for the company.

"I expected those individuals to pay for the wrongdoings.

"People are accountable for the actions they did or didn't do and as such I expected them to pay for that and yet not one single individual has actually been brought to book."

He said it was essential for the future of the steel industry in south Wales that lessons be learned from the explosion, and that safety was slowly improving.

Image caption Stephen Galsworthy, Andrew Hutin, and Len Radford died in the explosion at the steelworks

"We have to ensure that safeguards are put in place and that we change the culture. The culture has to change."

He said: "Most certainly there's a desire with regard to the union officials for their members for it to be a safer workplace.

"There's a desire from the managing director, a man I have got a great deal of respect for, Jon Ferriman, to ensure that the culture changes in the works.

"Unless we have zero tolerance with regard to misdemeanours for people working in safety we will not have zero accidents. It will not occur. We have to ensure that anyone who does not behave safely is actually penalised."

Community support

A memorial service will be held at St Theodore's parish church in Port Talbot at 17:00 GMT on Tuesday, 8 November, marking the exact hour the explosion happened.

Mr Hutin said he was grateful for the support the community in Port Talbot had shown him and his family following his son's death.

But he said memories of that night 10 years ago were still vivid.

"I remember the events of the night very, very clearly," he added.

"Although it's 10 years since the actual event, it could have happened last night. It's as clear as that."

His daughter, Sara, who was 13 when her brother died, said her feelings of loss would never go away.

"I have to live with the fact that my children will never meet my brother and my sister's children will never meet my brother," she said.

"Things that will happen in the future, things that have already happened, I can't share with him."

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