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Two firms and md fined for cool store explosion

ICEPAK Coolstores, the owner of the New Zealand cool store which exploded killing a firefighter and injuring 7 firemen, has been slapped with a fine and compensation costs.
Icepak was fined $37,000 in New Zealand's Hamilton district court today and ordered to pay reparation of $95,000 to the dead fireman's family and injured firemen. Mobile Refrigeration Specialists, the company contracted to Icepak, has been fined $56,000 and must pay reparation of $175,000. Icepak's managing director Wayne Grattan was fined $30,000.

The companies and company director were sentenced today (December 15) after pleading guilty to charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. Firefighter Derek Lovell died and seven firemen were seriously injured in the fire at the Tamahere-based Icepak cool store on April 5, 2008.

Grattan read a statement in court saying Icepak accepted mistakes were made in the design and operation of the cool store plant and that if they were not, the accident, fatality and injuries would not have happened. Mobile Refrigeration Specialists accepted it was at fault, but denied claims made by New Zealand's Department of Labour (DoL) that it was ultimately to blame or reckless.

During the court case, the DoL said the extent of safety breaches committed by MRS made the Icepak coolstore a bomb waiting to explode. The DoL told the court the Fire Service did not know the coolstore was using a highly explosive gas. It says the firefighters would have approached the coolstore differently if they had known propane was present. The seven injured firefighters were in court for the sentencing.

One of the injured firemen, Dennis Wells, said in a statement outside court: 'For us, as fire officers, this was never about money. We just did our duty. For Icepak and its directors, we feel it has always been about money. Their profit before safety approach is reinforced in the directors' stance in limiting their offer for appropriate reparation.'

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