The European Commission just before Christmas presented draft legislation of the Seveso II Directive that will align legislation to changes in EU chemicals law and will clarify and update other provisions. This includes introducing stricter inspection standards and improving the level and quality of information available to the public in the event of an accident. The new Directive should apply from 1 June 2015.

In view of the expected roll-out of hydrogen refuelling stations in the coming years the EHA, in collaboration with the European Industrial Gas Association, EIGA, has submitted a strong suggestion to double the treshold for onsite hydrogen storage form 5 to 10 tons. In the end this request has not been taken into account in the final Commission’s proposal as the number of larger hydrogen refuelling stations is considered still limited in the coming years. The Commission however refers to the possibility of using “delegated acts” to change non essential parts of the legislation if deemed necessary at a later stage. The EHA is currently considering lobbying Parliament and the Council to include the doubling of the treshold to avoid amending the legislation at a later stage.
The review of the Directive was prompted by the adoption of rules to align the EU classification system to the UN Globally Harmonised System (GHS). It will ensure that the same hazards are described and labelled in the same way all around the world. Other important changes proposed include stronger provisions relating to public access to safety information, participation in decision-making and access to justice, and improvements to the way information is collected, managed, made available and shared. The proposal also introduces stricter standards for inspections of installations to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of safety rules.

The remaining changes are technical modifications including simplifications to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens. The revision should maintain and improve current levels of protection without significantly affecting costs. For further information and the impact assessment report, visit:

The Seveso II Directive and its predecessor, Seveso I, were prompted by a major accident at a chemical plant in Seveso, Italy, in 1976. The legislation aims to prevent accidents involving large quantities of hazardous substances and applies to around 10,000 industrial establishments in the EU. There is a tiered approach to the level of controls, with larger quantities of chemicals subject to stricter rules. Under the Directive, operators of establishments where hazardous substances are present must notify their activities and establish a major accident prevention policy. Operators of ‘upper tier’ establishments must also establish a safety report and put a safety management system and an internal emergency plan in place. There are also obligations on public authorities relating to external emergency plans and public information on safety measures for upper-tier establishments, domino effects, land-use planning, accident reporting and inspections.

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