Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Buncefield's Forgotten Victims; My [Pounds Sterling]1.3m House Was Destroyed but I Received Only [Pounds Sterling]450,000 in Insurance. That Went on Paying off the Mortgage

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Buncefield's Forgotten Victims; My [Pounds Sterling]1.3m House Was Destroyed but I Received Only [Pounds Sterling]450,000 in Insurance. That Went on Paying off the Mortgage

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK SAWER

ONE year after the Buncefield disaster the oil is flowing again, along with the profits of the petrol companies.

But victims of the oil depot explosion and fire are still waiting for compensation.

People such as Ian Silverstein, whose home was reduced to a shell but who has not received a penny.

His house, High Grange, near the depot in Hemel Hempstead, was so badly damaged that it was condemned as unfit for human habitation.

Mr Silverstein's insurers paid him [pounds sterling]450,000, the cost of rebuilding High Grange, but this was only about a third of the property's [pounds sterling]1.3million value before the blast.

The 35-year-old businessman had to use the money to pay off his mortgage company, Portman, which called in his [pounds sterling]450,000 loan on the grounds that the property on which it was secured no longer existed.

He and his girlfriend lost all their possessions in the explosion and have been living in temporary, rented accommodation ever since.

The explosion - Britain's biggest in peacetime - took place just after 6am on 11 December last year, injuring 200 people and causing the evacuation of 2,000 residents.

"We've become the forgotten ones," said Mr Silverstein. "Our lives have been turned upside down, our homes destroyed and our businesses threatened and yet nobody in authority seems to give a damn.

"To rub it in, the plant is up and running again. How wrong is that?"

The couple were in bed when they were showered with falling plaster. The blast had blown a hole through the brickwork.

"We thought an aeroplane had hit the house," said Mr Silverstein.

"We were lucky to get out of there alive." He was forced to take four months leave from his St Albans consultancy business, Creative Action Design.

In the days after the explosion his wrecked home - built in 1911 as a country retreat - was looted six times and he had to board it up.

Despite this, it has still been stripped of anything of value, including garden plants. Mr Silversteinis one of 3,000 people suing Buncefield's operator, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited, in his case for personal trauma and the loss of value on his home. …

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