Sunderland factory’s deadly haul of fireworks

Alan Teasdale and Carol Finn outside Sunderland Magistrates Court.

Alan Teasdale and Carol Finn outside Sunderland Magistrates Court.

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A MASSIVE haul of illegally-stored fireworks could have blown up a factory and killed workers inside.

Boxes of fireworks, some damaged, were stacked floor to ceiling at Temple Business Recycling, on Pallion Industrial Estate, Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard.

Police discovered more than 14 times the amount which could be legally stored at the site.

Former company director Carol Finn and ex-employee Alan Teasdale yesterday admitted two breaches of Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations, relating to the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Prosecuting for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Lynne Bennett said police visited the two-storey building on other matters, and contacted the fire service after discovering the dangerously large stash of fireworks.

Officers later seized about 1,400kgs of fireworks.

The premises had a registration to store only 250kgs, while a dedicated explosive store separate from the main building was being used to house quad bikes.

Mrs Bennett added: “Some of the boxes were in a state of disrepair. Boxes of fireworks were stacked floor to ceiling, with walkways in between.

“It was immediately obvious to the officer the quantity was far in excess of what was permitted under regulations.

“The net explosive content of the fireworks was approximately 1,400kg, which is 14 times the amount that would have been permitted under the regulations.

“In addition, the storage area for the fireworks was totally unsuitable.”

“I have been advised that the quantity there would have been enough to explode and destroy the building that they were in. It was a serious hazard.”

Finn, of Oswald Street, Millfield and Teasdale, of Parklea, Middle Herrington, admitted storing more than 50kgs of fireworks in September last year, and being persons storing explosives who failed to take measures to prevent fires or explosion.

Teasdale claimed in interview that he thought the room was the safest place to store them, as the electrics had been removed.

Mother-of-two Finn denied the order of fireworks had been placed in partnership with her, claiming it was a private arrangement by Teasdale.

District Judge Roger Elsey ordered Finn, 32 and Teasdale, 58, complete 60 and 100 hours of unpaid work respectively, and pay £400 towards prosecution costs.

After the hearing, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: “The premises had enough fireworks to have caused a major explosion in the building, potentially killing or seriously injuring anyone in or around the vicinity.

“All suppliers of fireworks must apply for a registration or licence to store fireworks safely and we carry out inspections before they are issued.

“There are strict regulations in place limiting the quantity, type and storage of fireworks to ensure public safety.

“This case demonstrates that we take the illegal storage of fireworks very seriously.

“As we approach Bonfire Night we are warning other suppliers that we will be carrying out random inspections. We will prosecute anyone we find storing fireworks illegally.”

You must be 18 or over to buy fireworks and you can be fined up to £5,000 for throwing a firework in a public place.

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