EC to amend the SEVESO Directive

Published:  22 December, 2010

On 21 December 2010 the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend the Seveso Directive.  The main focus is the alignment of Annex 1 of Seveso with the new EU regulation classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures.  Other proposed changes relate to providing information to the public and inspection arrangements.  The Commission has also published an impact assessment of the changes.

Council Directive 96/82/EC of 9 December 1996 on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (as amended) is a European Union law aimed at improving the safety of sites containing large quantities of dangerous substances. It is also known as the Seveso II Directive, after the Seveso disaster.

The review of the Directive

As a result of the review process, on 21 December 2010 the Commission adopted a proposal for a new Directive that would repeal and replace the current Directive) by 1 June 2015.

The main changes proposed are:

  • to align Annex I to the Directive (defining the substances falling within its scope) to changes to the EU system of classification of dangerous substances to which it refers;
  • to include corrective mechanisms to adapt Annex I in the future to deal with situations over time from the alignment where substances are included/excluded that do/do not present a major-accident hazard;
  • to strengthen the provisions relating to public access to safety information, participation in decision-making and access to justice, and improve the way information is collected, managed, made available and shared;
  • to introduce stricter standards for inspections of installations to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of safety rules. 

The remaining changes are minor technical modifications to clarify and update certain provisions, including some streamlining and simplification to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens.

The proposal is accompanied by an impact assessment, based on the information and studies referred to below. 

The review was prompted by the need to amend the Directive due to changes to the EU system of classification of dangerous substances to which Annex I to the Directive refers. The CLP Regulation (EC No. 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures implementing the UN Globally harmonised System (GHS), published on 31 December 2008, will repeal Directives 67/548/EEC (DSD) and 1999/45/EC (DPD) by 1 June 2015.

The review was extended to a wider review of the Directive since its basic structure and  main requirements have remained essentially unchanged since its adoption. During the review process stakeholders (individual companies, industry associations, NGOs, Member State competent authorities) were consulted and several studies were carried out by external contractors. See below for further details. The findings from the three-yearly implementation reports from Member States were also taken into account.

 Alignment of Annex I to GHS/CLP

In 2008, a Technical Working Group (TWG) "Seveso and GHS" was established. Experts from Member States and stakeholders assessed the alignment of the Seveso categories in Annex I Part 2 of the Directive to the new classification system.  The technical report of the TWG (which met six times) is available here. The Commission Proposal is very largely based  on the suggestions developed by the TWG.

In the light of this work, an external contractor conducted an impact assessment study on behalf of DG Environment, and further developed the options which emerged within the TWG. The Final Report of the "Impact Assessment Study into possible options for adapting Annex I of the Seveso II Directive into the GHS" includes analysis for a potential impact assessment of adapting Annex I to the CLP.

Other studies

To further inform the review process the Commission had two studies conducted to assess the level and quality of practical implementation of the Directive.

The first study ('Study of the Effectiveness of the Seveso II Directive') was completed in 2008 and covered implementation of the main requirements imposed on operators, focussing in particular on those relating to major accident prevention policy, safety reports and internal emergency plans.

Click here for the final report (Annex 1A - 1B) of the study.

In 2009 a second study was undertaken examining the effectiveness of the main requirements imposed on public authorities. Click here for the report of the study.

In 2010 a further impact assessment study  was undertaken to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of various policy options for other possible amendments to the Directive going beyond the Annex I alignment. A copy of the report of the study can be found here.

Stakeholder consultation meeting

A stakeholder consultation meeting was held in Brussels on 10th November 2009. A short report of the meeting, together with copies of the presentations made during the discussions, can be accessed here.

  • Operation Florian

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