In a court hearing today, France-based energy company Total has admitted breaching safety regulations and polluting ground water in connection with the explosion at the UKs Buncefield fuel depot in 2005.
The blast was caused by the ignition of a vast vapour cloud, formed from the spillage of 300 tonnes of petrol from the top of one of the storage tanks.
Total failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of employees and the public, while caused fuel and firewater chemicals to enter ground waters in the chalk aquifer underlying the vicinity of Buncefield.
Total UK regrets the unfortunate events at Buncefield in December 2005 and would like to apologise to all those affected by the incident, the company states.
The charges were brought by regulators the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA).
In March, the High Court ruled Total was solely liable for thousands of claims arising from the blast, potentially amounting to more than £750 million (841 million) for damage to property caused by Britain's largest peacetime explosion.
The blast caused widespread damage over a 450 metre area of Hertfordshire, north of London, and injured 43 people.