European chemical accidents fall further on EU Seveso directive

17 August 2010 20:09  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--The number of major chemical accidents in the 27-nation EU has fallen during the latest 2006-2008 reporting period, even though the number of reporting chemical sites rose 14%, the EU Commission said on Tuesday.

In a report, the Commission said there were 79 major chemical accidents in the 2006-2008 period, compared with 82 in the 2003-2005 and 86 in the 2000-2002 periods, under the EU’s Seveso II directive that covers thousands of chemical sites that handle or produce dangerous substances.

The improvement came even though the number of reporting sites under the directive rose to 4,528 as of the end of 2008, from 3,949 as of the end of 2005 and 3,677 as of the end of 2002 as more members implemented the directive, new members acceded to the EU, and an amendment extended the directive’s scope.

Excluding Romania and Bulgaria, which acceded to the EU in 2007, the number of reporting sites rose 10% from the 2003-2005 period.

The amendment had extended the directive's scope with regard to explosives, fertilizers and substances dangerous to the environment in the aftermath of major accidents in Enschede, The Netherlands; Toulouse, France; and Baia Mare, Romania, the Commission said.

The Commission said the data showed that overall the Seveso directive was working well.

“Considering the increase in the number of establishments, relatively fewer major accidents happened per establishment,” it said.

The frequency of accidents, which had for many years been higher than 3 per 1000 establishments per year, seemed to be falling to under 3 on average for the latest reporting period and would hopefully approach 2 in the near future, the Commission said.

On a yearly basis, there were around 20 to 35 major accidents in the EU, it said.

However there were deficiencies in some areas in some member states, it said and added: “The Commission will monitor progress on implementation closely and take action as appropriate.”

The Commission would take the latest findings into account in a review of the directive that was expected to lead to a legal proposal for a revised or a new directive later this year, it said.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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