France-headquartered oil giant Total has lost a new High Court bid to take full responsibility for the 2005 Buncefield oil depot disaster from its shoulders.
The Court of Appeal in London upheld an original ruling that the company, which is facing damages claims of £750 million (826.5 million), is solely liable
Total says 92% of damages claims from individuals have now been settled, but this is disputed by solicitors acting for Hemel Hempstead residents.
During the 2008 High Court trial Total unsuccessfully argued that oil firm Chevron, its partner in the joint venture Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited (HOSL), should shoulder some of the damages.
The judge decided Total and not HOSL was responsible for day to day operations at the depot. The Court of Appeal also ruled Shell was entitled to compensation for the loss of millions of pounds worth of fuel in the blaze.
The disaster took place when safety mechanisms and procedures failed and a storage tank overflowed, causing a fuel vapour cloud to form. The resulting blast injured 43 people.