Revised EU rules will improve safety at chemical plants - bureau

22 December 2010 13:33  [Source: ICIS news]

EU rules improve safety at chems plantsPRAGUE (ICIS)--A newly revised European directive provides opportunities to strengthen chemical plant safety rules, Europe's largest federation of environmental organisations said on Wednesday.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) supported the Seveso II Directive revision as part of its strategy of pushing for "prevention and precautionary principles rather than the current 'management of risks' approach and the provision of more transparency in regards to these installations", it said.

The European Commission said the drafted Seveso II changes would, if adopted as planned from 1 June 2015, align legislation to changes in EU chemicals law.

This would allow for stricter inspection standards and improvements in the level and quality of information available to the public in the event of a chemical plant accident, the Commission added.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: “The Seveso II Directive has been instrumental in reducing the likelihood and consequences of chemical accidents.

"However, such accidents still occur and can often have devastating effects. We cannot compromise with safety. This is why the proposed new rules will further strengthen legislation in this area and ensure the necessary high levels of protection."

The review was prompted by the adoption of rules to align the EU classification system to the UN Globally Harmonised system and would ensure that the same hazards were described and labelled in the same way worldwide, the Commission added.

If, as a result of the revision, a chemical site became subject to Seveso II, "it doesn't necessarily mean that there has been an increase in the hazards on site or the risk presented", the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said in guidance on the changes.

"It may be because a substance is being classified in a different way or the qualifying quantity listed in the legislation has changed. Applying additional legislative controls may lead to increased safety and less risk to people working at the site," the HSE added.

The directive is named after the Seveso disaster, caused by an industrial accident in July 1976 at a small chemical manufacturing plant near Milan, Italy. It resulted in residents being exposed to a polychlorinated dibenzodioxin.

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By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214



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