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Frequently asked questions

Purpose

What is the purpose of the Seveso III Directive?

The Directive aims to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and limit the consequences to human health and the environment of any that do happen.

What is the reason for a new Seveso Directive?

A new Directive is needed because the hazard-based classification system for chemicals, upon which the scope of Seveso is determined, is being replaced and Seveso II will no longer function unless there is a link with the new classification system. The European Commission also took the opportunity to modernise the Directive in line with other environmental legislation..

Classification

What is the hazard-based classification system for chemicals on which the scope of Seveso III is based?

Seveso III is based on the new classification criteria in the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation). This in turn is based on the UN’s Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of classification. Guidance on the CLP Regulation can be is available.

Seveso II was based on the CHIP Regulations, what is Seveso III based on?

Seveso III is based on the European Regulations on classification, labelling and packaging of substances (CLP). The CLP Regulation adopts the globally harmonised system (GHS) on the classification and labelling of chemicals throughout the EU and will replace CHIP in June 2015, which is when the Seveso III Directive has to be transposed into UK law. Guidance on the CLP Regulation is available.

How can companies be signposted to sound data on LD 50 and LC 50/ppm data?

The responsibility for the classification of substances falls to the REACH authorities, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. The Classification and Labelling (C & L) Database is available on the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) website. The data which has been agreed by the EU is marked as “harmonised” and there is a check box on the C & L database to obtain the harmonised data. Another good source of data is the European Chemical Substances Information System (ESIS) which will eventually be superseded by ECHA.

Scope

What are the implications for me?

The changes to Seveso have been kept to a minimum as far as possible. However, the new classification criteria in the CLP Regulations and the way Seveso III will link to CLP from 1 June 2015 could mean that a number of sites may:

  • enter the Seveso (COMAH) regime at the lower or upper tier threshold,
  • move from the lower tier to the upper tier, or vice versa, or
  • leave the regime completely, although this is only likely to happen in a very few cases.

The changes will have implications for people who have duties under the legislation and others who may be affected by them.

Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on these pages and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

My site already comes under Seveso/COMAH, do I need to do anything because of the new Directive?

 If you are already operating a Seveso (COMAH) site, you should:

  • Check the scope of the Directive ie changes to Annex I;
  • Check other parts of the Directive which may apply eg more information may be required for the safety report which may then need to be revised, or public information requirements may have changed for your site.
  • Check the draft Regulations which will be published as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014, operators will have the opportunity to submit any comments to HSE as part of this process.
  • Check the new Regulations and the accompanying guidance, draft guidance is due to be published online in Spring 2015 with hard copy available once the Regulations have come into force.

Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

My site is out of scope of the Seveso II Directive does that mean it will stay out of scope of the new Directive?

Although your site may currently be out of scope of the Seveso II Directive, you will need to check the changes to Annex 1 of the Seveso III Directive which could affect whether your site remains out of scope or becomes a lower or upper tier site. Changes to other parts of the legislation might also affect how you discharge your duties.

Does Seveso III apply to my business?

If your business holds/produces dangerous substances at or above the threshold levels in the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999 (which implement the Seveso II Directive in the UK), it is likely that the Directive and therefore the Regulations will apply to your business.

Seveso applies to a wide range of industries eg chemical and petrochemical, fuel storage (including marine fuel storage) and distribution, businesses that store gas, manufacture and store explosives, or have large warehouses or distribution facilities storing dangerous substances, eg agrochemicals, flammable liquids and propellants like aerosols.

If new data on the properties of substances becomes available that leads to a change to a company’s COMAH status, what should a company do?

Companies have a duty to self classify the chemicals they use or store and to consider whether COMAH applies to them or whether they have changed their status within COMAH. They should notify the Competent Authority (CA)i.e. HSE/EA/SEPA when the change of classification brings them within scope of COMAH or changes their status from an upper tier to a lower tier COMAH site or vice versa.

Implementation

I have heard that Government Departments have to ‘copy out’ the requirements of a Directive. Will HSE be doing this for the Seveso III Directive?

Yes. HFO will change from the lower threshold in the ‘Dangerous for the Environment’ classification to the ‘Petroleum Products’ category which has higher threshold levels. This change will be implemented in the UK by amendment to the COMAH Regulations and to the relevant planning legislation and will apply from 15 February 2014.  An update on regulation of HFO is available.

The formal consultation regarding the HFO changes is due to taken place over Summer 2013, more inform

Will there be guidance on the new COMAH Regulations?

Yes, guidance will be published on the new COMAH Regulations three months before the regulations come into force i.e. around the beginning of March 2015.

Will HSE consult on its proposals for implementation of the Directive?

Yes, HSE is planning an extensive consultation programme. Informal consultation with industry is taking place during 2013 and includes a programme of events where the approach to transposition will be discussed and further developed. Formal consultation will take place early in 2014 with the publication of a consultation document and a draft impact assessment.

We know the COMAH Regulations are going to change but the current regulations will still be law until 31 May 2015, are any transitional arrangements going to be used to bridge the gap between COMAH 1999 and its replacement ?

Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered for a number of topics such as the change from CHIP to CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures) system of classification and its impact on notification. Transitional arrangements are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

Additionally, through our informal and formal consultation efforts we will be actively seeking the opinions of operators and other involved parties on the effectiveness and practicality of our proposed transitional arrangements.

Timescales

When does the Seveso III Directive have to be implemented and when will the new COMAH Regulations come into force?

The Seveso III Directive has to be transposed into UK law by 1 June 2015. It will be implemented through new COMAH Regulations which will come into force on 1 June 2015. The planning elements will be implemented through revised planning legislation which is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

Draft regulations will be published for consultation in Spring 2014, transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

Land use planning

I noticed that some of the Articles in the Directive relate to land use planning, is HSE responsible for planning matters?

No, planning matters fall within the remit of the Department for Communities and Local Government in England, and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. They will be responsible for implementing the articles in the Directive which relate to land use planning and will be transposed through the relevant planning legislation. HSE has an advisory role for applications for Hazardous Substances Consent and planning applications for certain developments in close proximity to major hazard installations or pipelines.

As planning falls within the remit of the Department for Communities and Local Government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales they will be considering this issue.

Safety reports

I have heard that Top Tier sites will be expected to produce a Non-Technical Summary (NTS) of their Safety Reports to help satisfy the public information requirement, is this true ? If it is what will be required of an NTS and what support will be available for producing them ?

Non-technical summaries (NTSs) are one of the options being considered for how information can be conveyed to the public in a manner that meets the requirements of the Directive. Feedback from industry on NTSs and their use is being sought via informal consultation.

No decisions have yet been made on whether NTSs will be used or how they may be used. Questions around the provision of public information including the potential for the use of NTSs will be included in the formal consultation due to be published in Spring 2014.

Will top tier sites have to resubmit their safety reports and emergency plans to comply with the new Directive? If so, what will be the timescales for complying with this?

The Directive requires existing top tier establishments to review their safety reports and emergency plans and submit any changes that may be required by the new regulations. Work is still underway to define what will constitute a material change and require an update to be submitted.

The timescales for compliance, including any transitional arrangements for establishments due to review their safety reports and emergency plans as part of their normal schedule in the run up the COMAH 2015 Regulations coming into force, will be will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

Annex II says my Safety Report must include a ‘Review of past accidents and incidents with the same substances and processes used, consideration of lessons learned from there, and explicit reference to specific measures taken to prevent such accidents’. How wide will operators be expected to take this ? This could mean a lot of extra work.

Sites will be required to provide this information within reason and with consideration to what is practical and relevant. For example lessons learned from other sites or countries should be taken into consideration where they are relevant to a process or substance used by the operator and its major accident hazard potential.

Public information

How will issues of commercial sensitivity and national security be dealt with under the new Directive?

The new Directive has been brought in line with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters and now assumes that information regarding COMAH sites and their hazards will be available to the public. The methods by which information will be made available are still under consideration and will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

The Directive allows for information to be withheld if it is considered appropriate meaning exceptions for commercial sensitivity and national security reasons will still be possible on a case by case basis.

As an operator will I have to provide the electronic public information via my website?

Options are being considered to determine the most effective way to implement the requirement for certain information to be permanently and electronically available to the public. Further details about the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

Heavy fuel oil

I have heard there is going to be a change regarding Heavy Fuel Oils (HFOs) and that the change will take place earlier than the implementation date for the Seveso III Directive, is that correct?

Yes. HFOs will change from the lower thresholds in the ‘Dangerous for the Environment’ classification to the ‘Petroleum Products’ category which has higher threshold levels. This change will be implemented in the UK by amendment to the COMAH Regulations and will apply from 15 February 2014. Further information about this will be available on these web pages in due course.

Emergency planning

Will there be any new requirements on emergency planning under Seveso III?

The main emergency planning principals will stay the same, that is for Top Tier establishments, specific onsite and offsite emergency plans and Public Information Zone (PIZ) information and for Lower Tier establishments, emergency planning arrangements via the Major Accident Prevention Plan (MAPP) and Safety Management System (SMS).

There are a number of differences such as:

  • extra information is required for offsite emergency plans (arrangements for offsite mitigatory action and for providing neighbouring establishments and sites with information on accidents and actions to be taken);
  • timescales for preparing emergency plans;
  • the public is given an early opportunity to give an opinion on an offsite emergency plan; and
  • public information is required on emergency warnings and behaviour in the event of an accident for all establishments, and information from offsite emergency plans for Top Tier sites.

How these new requirements will be implemented is still being worked on and the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

I’ve heard there will be new requirements for Lower Tier sites to provide offsite emergency plans and PIZ (Public Information Zone) information under Seveso III – is this correct?

The requirements for Lower Tier sites on emergency planning have not changed in Seveso III. There is only a specific duty to prepare off site plans and PIZ information for Top Tier sites. Lower Tier emergency planning continues to be via the Major Accident Prevention Plan (MAPP) and the Safety Management System (SMS).

Potential clarification of the regulations on requirements for Top and Lower Tier sites will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

All sites, including Lower Tier will now be required to make the information listed in Annex V of the Directive permanently and electronically available. This includes information on how the public will be warned and what they should do in the event of a major accident, which has implications for emergency planning.

How these new requirements will be implemented is still being worked on and the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

Other

What is the difference between a neighbouring establishment and a neighbouring site and how do these differ from Domino sites?

Domino effects, as described in Article 9, are where a group of upper or lower tier establishments is identified where the major accident potential or its consequences is increased by virtue of the geographical position of a site, the proximity of such establishments and their inventories of dangerous substances. There is specific requirements for information about such groups of sites to be provided to the Competent Authority.

Article 3 of the Directive defines a neighbouring establishment as ‘an establishment that is located in such proximity to another establishment so as to increase the risk or consequences of a major accident’. Information on neighbouring establishments relevant to major accident hazard potential should be included in notifications and safety reports. Article 7 and Annex II further require that information on neighbouring sites which fall outside of the scope of the Directive should also be included where they may still affect a major accident scenario for example a furniture warehouse or tyre storage yard located near a COMAH installation could be a factor in the event of a fire.

How these new requirements will be implemented is still being worked on and the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

Seveso enquiries

If you have a question that has not been covered by any of the information on these pages please contact us on; Seveso.III.Enquiries@hse.gsi.gov.uk. This account can also be used to submit any comments or suggestions on the information provided all of which will be taken into consideration as regulations are drafted and specific areas for consultation are decided upon. Please note however that although the account is monitored you may not necessarily receive a response to your enquiry/comment as they may be used to generate further material to populate the web pages.

If you would be interested in participating in a pre consultation activities including short surveys on specific topics you can register your interest by emailing; Seveso.III.Enquiries@hse.gsi.gov.uk. You should include your contact details, if you are a COMAH operator and if so at Top or Lower Tier and any specific areas of interest. Activities will be arranged on specific topics or areas subject to availability and levels of interest.

Updated: 2014-05-30