Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) was prosecuted following a fire which occurred on 3 August 2010 at their premises in Aldermaston. During the production of a lacquer using volatile agents, a fireball was produced in a bucket which caused an explosion and resulted in Ashley Emery, an AWE employee, sustaining burns. Although he was able to escape before it spread, the fire subsequently caused significant damage to the building.
During the subsequent HSE investigation, it was found that AWE had failed to pay sufficient attention to the data sheets regarding the various chemicals used in their processes. AWE was also found to be storing various chemicals in close proximity, which in themselves created a potential fire risk. In addition, employees were not provided with adequate flame retardant coveralls despite being involved in various potentially explosive processes.
AWE pleaded guilty to breach of s2(1) HSWA and was ordered to pay costs of £80,258 in addition to the fine.