National Grid Gas plc has been fined £4M with £91,805 costs for failing to ensure its records relating to gas risers were up to date.
National Grid Gas previously operated several local gas distribution networks (GDNs) supplying gas to UK domestic and industrial gas customers, including gas pipes in high-rise multi occupancy buildings.
In 2016 these operations were sold to Cadent Gas Ltd. The incomplete records were transferred with the sale and the system had not been subject to any audits or reviews when the records issue came to light in December 2017.
After HSE requested information, it found that Cadent’s management records were incomplete and records on 769 buildings were missing, meaning gas risers in these buildings had not been subject to a condition survey, inspection or routine maintenance for a number of years.
Additionally, the investigation found that National Grid Gas had failed to ensure that 112 of the high-rise buildings had pipeline isolation valves for use in the event of an incident.
As a result, HSE undertook a criminal investigation that considered the risk that residents and members of the public were exposed to as a result of breaches to Health and Safety legislation.
Cadent took appropriate action and complied with improvement notices by September 2018. After an Ofgem investigation it paid a financial penalty to Ofgem of £24 million and agreed to set up a community fund of £20 million to support customers in vulnerable circumstances.
National Grid Gas pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 6 November 2020. On 9 February it was fined at Liverpool Crown Court.
After the hearing, HM principal inspector for HSE, Julie Voce said: “This case had wide ranging implications. Our investigations found that people living and working in the high-rise buildings where the failings took place were not protected from the risk of gas leaks.
“National Grid Gas did not have a robust system for recording the details of the gas pipes within these buildings. Opportunities arose where National Grid Gas identified data errors, but these were never satisfactorily acted upon, and opportunities to correct the situation were missed.”