Buncefield expert receives his OBE

Harrold OBE story: Bob Woodward.'30/02/12
Harrold OBE story: Bob Woodward.'30/02/12

A major hazards expert who led the investigation into the cause of the Buncefield explosion which injured more than 40 people has received an OBE.

Bob Woodward, the former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) director for major hazards in the south and east of England, led the team which investigated the cause of the Buncefield Oil Depot explosions and fire of December 2005.

Fortunately no-one was killed in the explosion but significant damage was caused to surrounding properties and most of the site was destroyed.

Following five years of tireless research by Mr Woodward’s team of 70 staff, three oil companies were found guilty and two more pleaded guilty to not meeting health and safety standards at the site.

At the end of January, Mr Woodward, 64, of Harrold, near Rushden, was presented with an OBE for his services to the HSE by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. He said: “It was a great honour to receive the OBE but I also feel I have received it on behalf of all those people who worked with me.

“Prince Charles shook me by the hand and asked me about the explosion and my role in the investigation.

“It was exciting and daunting to work on such a big incident. The site had been burned to the ground and we had to find out why. We had to put a lot of work in, in all weather conditions, for a couple of years. There were so many dedicated people who worked so hard for me – they were a fantastic team.”

Mr Woodward worked for the HSE for about 30 years until he retired in 2010.