The Seveso Directive deals exclusively with the prevention and control of major industrial risks involving dangerous substances. This Directive was named after the 1976 accident at a chemical plant manufacturing pesticides and herbicides in Seveso, Italy.
The Seveso Directive defines these occurrences as:
- A major emission, fire or explosion resulting from uncontrolled developments in the course of the operation of an establishment.
This can lead to:
- A seriously immediate or delayed danger to human health or the environment inside or outside of the establishment, involving one or more dangerous substances.
The Seveso Directive, currently known as Seveso II is the main piece of European Union legislation dealing explicitly with the control of on-shore major accident hazards involving dangerous substances. It is applicable to any establishment where dangerous substances are present, or are likely to be produced as a result of an accident, in quantities equal to or in excess of the quantities listed in Annex I. Under Seveso II the list of named substances in Annex I were reduced from 180 to 50.
On the 1st June 2015 Seveso II will be replaced by the Seveso III Directive. Seveso III will not essentially alter the regulatory regime outlined by Seveso II but it will strengthen a number of areas including public access to information and communication of safety information and it will introduce stricter standards for inspections of installations. Seveso III will also align Annex I with the changes in the EU system of classification of dangerous substances introduced by the Regulation (EC) 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures.
Also on 1st June 2015 COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) Regulations 1999 will be repealed and replaced by the COMAH Regulations 2015 in England/Wales and Scotland in order to implement the new Directive. The new COMAH Regulations sets out to improve the regulatory regime and in doing so will improve safety. These new regulations will put more responsibility on the operator to ensure all parties are fully informed of what types of chemicals are being stored and what safety measures are in place to prevent accidents and ensure that a proper emergency response plan is in place.
Seveso III will cover sites who use or store large quantities of hazardous materials. All operators who store large quantities of harmful substances on site, will now be required to:
- Give formal notification to the Health and Safety Authority and The Central Competent Authority (CCA).
- Inform the Local Authority of Emergency Response Plans and safety measures which have been put in place by the operator.
All operations who use or store large quantities of harmful substances will be legally liable to meet all aspects of this Directive. Seveso III will also affect all existing operators in different ways.
The following table outlines the implementation timetable:
Regulations of the Directive: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:353:0001:1355:en:PDF
Pegasus Legal Register: Council Directive 96/82/EC on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances