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Major Hazard Directive


Seveso is a city near Milan in Italy and was the site of one of the most consequential accidents in chemical industry in 1976 when a great amount of dioxin was released into the air by a nearby plant. Triggered by this event European Economic Community Members decided to reinforce regulation on industrial activities. That's why the SEVESO I Directive was elaborated the 24 June 1982 to avoid new accidents such as this one and why it got this name.

But new accidents imposed new reflections on developing new actions. Due to the low efficiency of the regulations, the European Union Council decided in 1987 to deeply modify them. A new Directive called "SEVESO II" was adopted in 1996 (96/82/EC) instead of SEVESO I.

The Amendment of the Seveso II Directive adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 16 December 2003, was the following of Toulouse accident (France - 21 September 2001), Baia Mare accident (Romania - January 2000) and Enschede accident (Netherlands - May 2000).

Enforcement field and subject

The last modifications of the Directive concerned the field of the regulation :

First of all, the notion of plant has as consequence that substructures as rail junctions, docked boats and wharf are now concerned, contrary to pipelines, ports or railroad-yard which are not concerned.

Then, the thresholds of some substances were changed and more activities were concerned (mines, chemical or thermal stones treatment, potassium nitrate and dangerous substances for the environment, carcinogenic goods). Modalities of elaboration for internal rescue plans and the consideration of distances between important tracks of transport and leisure areas for urbanisation control were introduced.

Concerning other obligations, domino effects have to be studied (are the consequences and probabilities of failures more important because of the location of equipments and dangerous goods?). Information has to be exchanged between companies about these domino effects.

The consideration of urbanisation control should allow to impose safety perimeters for existing plants and impose additional technical measures. The Directive also emphasises the policy of prevention of major accidents and obliges industrials to write a document, which explains this policy and makes sure it will be applied.

The Directive introduces, for each substance, a lower and a higher threshold. The plants that are beyond the higher threshold present high risks. High risk companies have to demonstrate in a safety report their policy of prevention of major accidents and have to develop and implement a safety management system. Besides, they have to inform population on their risks.

Place of hydrogen in this regulation

Hydrogen is concerned by the Directive; it is indicated in appendix I. The lower threshold (column 2) is 5 tons and the higher threshold (column 3) is 50 tons.

Since the appearance of the Directive, each country has transposed this European regulation in National regulation.

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Page last modified on December 03, 2008, at 12:06 PM