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Major accident hazards

The Seveso Directive – Summary of requirements

The principles

The Seveso-III-Directive (2012/18/EU) aims at the prevention of major accidents involving dangerous substances. However, as accidents may nevertheless occur, it also aims at limiting the consequences of such accidents not only for human health but also for the environment.

The Directive covers establishments where dangerous substances may be present (e.g. during processing or storage) in quantities exceeding certain threshold. Excluded from the Directive are certain industrial activities which are subject to other legislation providing a similar level of protection (e.g. nuclear establishments or the transport of dangerous substances).

Depending on the amount of dangerous substances present, establishments are categorised in lower and upper tier, the latter are subject to more stringent requirements.

The legal framework established by the Directive creates a continuous improvement cycle of prevention, preparedness and response to major accidents. The cycle is closed by provisions on lesson learning.

Main obligations for operators

Operators are obliged to take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences for human health and the environment. The requirements include:

  • Notification of all concerned establishments (Article 7);
  • Deploying a major accident prevention policy  (Article 8);
  • Producing a safety report for upper-tier establishments (Article 10);
  • Producing internal emergency plans for upper tier establishments (Article 12);
  • Providing information in case of accidents (Article 16).

Main obligations for Member State authorities

Member States need to ensure that a number of requirements are fulfilled, those include:

  • Producing external emergency plans for upper tier establishments (Article 12);
  • Deploying land-use planning for the siting of establishments (Article 13);
  • Making relevant information publically available (Article 14);
  • Ensuring that any necessary action is taken after an accident including emergency measures, actions to ensure that the operator takes any necessary remedial measures and informing the persons likely to the affected (Article 17);
  • Reporting accidents to the Commission (Article 18);
  • Prohibiting the unlawful use or operation of establishments (Article 19);
  • Conducting inspections (Article 20).

Member States may maintain or adopt stricter measures than those contained in the Seveso Directive.

Citizens' rights

  • The public concerned needs to be consulted and involved in the decision making for specific individual projects (Article 15);
  • Subject to the conditions outlined, Member State authorities need to make available any information held pursuant to the Seveso Directive (Articles 14 and 22);
  • Access to justice needs to be granted on the cases listed in Article 23.

Where can I find more information?