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...bizarre sequence of aberation...
Buncefield fire destroyed crime data
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2007
By: John Sparks
The Buncefield oil depot fire caused millions of pounds worth of damage in 2005 but it also damaged a vital crime fighting system
Channel 4 News understands that a vital back-up system to the police national computer was damaged by the Buncefield fire, with knock-on effects still felt today.
This programme has learnt that as a direct result of the fire, the government has scrapped an attempt to join the Shengen Information System (SIS), an important crime-fighting tool, because vital software was damaged.
Paid for - but never used
The SIS provides vital information of whether wanted criminal suspects are entering the country from the EU or elsewhere.
The UK has held the right to access much of this information since late 2004 - and paid £39m for its share of developing SIS - yet there isn't a single computer connected to it in the UK.
The Home Office has even trained staff to work on it, but have told Channel 4 News that because of the fire, they had abandoned trying to connect to the database in its current form.
The Schengen Information System (SIS)
The SIS is a huge EU-wide system for the collection and exchange of information between different law enforcement agencies. The information covers various policing, immigration, criminal and terror-related areas.
The SIS hub is located in a bunker in a Strasbourg suburb called Jesuitenfeld. Its back-up is in Austria and it is linked to Europe-wide police forces, security agencies and border posts. They collect the intelligence and information and exchange it by sending back it to the hub, where their European colleagues can access it.
That information is available on the desk-top for authorised officials to use and the database has been found to be enormously effective with thousands of alerts triggered every day.
'Acts of God'
Home Office officials told a House of Lords committee this spring that they had abandoned trying to connect to the first version of SIS because of computer problems and 'acts of God'
Channel 4 have discovered that these 'acts of God' refer to a fire in a building consumed in the Buncefield oil depot fire. This building held computer infrastructure designed to connect to SIS.
Also destroyed in the fire was the Police National Computer's "Hot Stand-By" back-up system, designated "national critical infrastructure" by the government as it holds details on nearly seven million offenders, crimes and property.
Questions remain as to why such a vital piece of national infrastructure was placed 100 yards from a disaster hazard.
en.wikipedia.org... Shortly before Christmas when flights were busy would make an impact.
The oil terminal supplied 30% of Heathrow Airport's fuel, and because of the fire, the airport had to start rationing fuel. Some long-haul flights to Australia, the Far-East, and South Africa had to make an intermediate stop at Stansted Airport or other European airports to refuel, while short-haul operators were asked to fuel their aircraft for the round trip before flying to Heathrow. Some aircraft were only allowed 40% of the fuel they would normally take on board. Fuel shortages continued for months after the explosion.
Looking into all the other possibilities gets confusing rapidly. Reading between the lines here could mean something. fireworld.com...
Gasoline storage facilities represent the barest minimum of risk to citizens beyond the plant perimeter except under freakish Buncefield-type conditions. It would be impossible for even the best financed, most organized terrorists to duplicate the bizarre sequence of aberation that visited so much destruction upon the typically quiet English countryside.
Buncefield could happen again, given the right circumstances of time, weather, mechanical failure and human error. However, manufacturing that set of circumstances is certainly beyond what even the most determined terrorists could manage. For more than 40 minutes, nearly 300 tons of gasoline spilled unchecked into a dike surrounding a storage tank. Slowly, a vapor cloud extended out from the tank.
Only then came ignition.
What color is a petrol vapour explosion?
There's always the possibility of miscommunication in a highly secretive operation and actions being duplicated. Not much left to judge from when it's all over.
originally posted by: kester
a reply to: intrptr
I hadn't heard of the C4 until I searched ATS for any previous mention of Buncefield. There are many possible combinations of on the ground explosives, tampering with equipment, and a missile. There's always the possibility of miscommunication in a highly secretive operation and actions being duplicated. Not much left to judge from when it's all over.
John Harris was extremely well known, I took notice when I heard what he'd said. Although I'd read several accounts of witnesses hearing what they took to be a missile or small aircraft immediately before the explosion, John's was a very rare eyewitness account. He chose not to speak of it publicly.