UK Health and Safety Executive seeks views on Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations 2015

Published:  06 May, 2014

Consultation on land use planning aspects and Article 30 of Council Directive 2012/18/EU (Seveso III Directive) on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances – comments also sought on the public information requirements.

The consultative document seeks views on proposed new regulations, titled ‘The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015’ to implement all but the land use planning aspects and Article 30, ‘Heavy Fuel Oils’ of Council Directive 2012/18/EU (Seveso III Directive) on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances.

Article 30 has already been implemented in the UK via a consequential amendment to the COMAH Regulations 1999, this change will be incorporated into the COMAH Regulations 2015.

The Consultative Document also seeks comments on the new public information requirements and the initial assessment of the costs and benefits of the proposed changes as set out in the impact assessment.

The key areas of change are:

(a) Scope – due to the move from CHIP to the CLP classification criteria, there are some changes which will see a small number of sites move between tiers.  Some sites may move out of scope entirely whilst others may become COMAH sites for the first time. There are changes in classification for some substances such as alternative fuels which take account of advances in technology. The generic classifications ‘Toxic’ and ‘Very Toxic’ have been replaced with Acute Toxic Categories 1-3 with reference to specific routes of exposure. Operators will be required to update their inventories to reflect the change in classification system.

(b) Public Information – Seveso III has been brought in line with the Aarhus  Convention. This is reflected in the Article on public information which requires information regarding sites – both upper tier and, for the first time, lower tier - and their hazards to be made permanently and electronically available to the public. The information also has to be kept up to date.

Other areas of change are:

(a) Safety Reports – scope changes mean that existing sites will be required to review their safety reports and update them to reflect the CLP changes. For the majority of sites it is not anticipated that there will be any need to change actual safety management arrangements unless a new dangerous substance is added as a result of the change to CLP classification. The Secretary of State (SoS) Direction that safety reports should not be disclosed will be removed from 1 June 2015 (see paragraph 34). Therefore, operators will be required to identify issues in their safety report which are personally or commercially confidential, or have national security implications.

(b) Notifications – changes in scope are likely to mean that all COMAH sites will need to update their notifications to the CCA to ensure that they adequately reflect the nature and quantity of substances now within scope of the Directive.

(c) Emergency Plans – Seveso III prescribes a similar emergency planning regime to that in the COMAH Regulations 1999. There are some differences such as extra information is required in off-site emergency plans and both upper and lower tier operators have to provide public information on how the public concerned is warned and how they should behave in the event of a major accident. There are differences in timescales for the production of emergency plans. The changes in scope are likely to mean that the majority of COMAH sites will also need to review their emergency plans.

(d) There are some changes in definition of key terms (e.g. presence of dangerous substances).

(e) Duties in relation to domino effects are broader particularly regarding sharing information with neighbouring sites. 

The consultation ends on 27 June 2014.

Download the consultation document here.

  • Operation Florian

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