01 October 2001 22:23 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--The European Commission (EC) is to consider revisions to risk management legislation in the wake of the 21 September blast at Atofina's fertiliser plant in southern France, the EC environment commissioner said Monday.
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom told an EC session at Strasbourg, France today that while it is "too early to draw any positive conclusions at this stage" of investigations into the blast that killed 29 persons and injured more than 2400 others, "the appropriate [European Union] EU specialised committee would be meeting later in the month to discuss the implications for the revision of existing EU legislation."
She said there is "a need to for a further amendment of the Seveso II directive to broaden its scope." The EC's Seveso II directive imposes stringent obligations on establishments holding dangerous substances and sets requirements for land-use planning.
The explosion at Atofina's subsidiary Grande Paroisse in Toulouse in southwest France is the worst accident of its kind in Europe since 1921.
Wallstrom said: "It is also necessary to look closely at land use planning for the siting of industrial locations, and in the future it is to be hoped that new industrial sites would not be found in urban areas." More emphasis has to be placed on risk assessment in the future, she said.
But Wallstrom also pointed out that the Atofina factory dated back to the 1920s when such land-use and risk assessment laws did not apply.
"The EU's role is to monitor the situation closely with a view to updating appropriate legislation," Wallstrom was quoted by EC officials as saying. But she also emphasised that "at present, land use is a national or local responsibility."
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