Lives put at risk by ‘failings’ at SYorks airport

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A HUGE explosion could have been caused at Robin Hood Airport after border agency officials opened crates packed with ammunition - despite being warned not to by a pilot.

The UK Border Agency has been criticised following the incident which saw a plane loaded with anti-tank shells inspected at Finningley.

Ten people were present, and other aircraft nearby, when UKBA staff examined the cargo, even though the pilot warned officials the crates were filled with explosives and should not be checked.

The HSE found UKBA failed to carry out a suitable risk-assessment to enable them to complete the checks safely.

There was a significant risk ammunition could detonate if dropped, which could have detonated the whole cargo. As a result, people and aircraft were put at risk.

Paul Darling of UKBA attended a Crown Censure meeting and accepted the health and safety failings.

UKBA cannot face prosecution from the HSE. Instead Crown Censures are agreed procedures applicable to Crown employers in lieu of criminal proceedings.

Chair David Snowball said: “This Censure is the maximum enforcement action HSE can take and should serve to illustrate how seriously we take the failings identified.”

The incident took place in November 2009.