The Seveso Directive - What Security Managers Need to Know

Rob Suddaby
Posted by Rob Suddaby
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The Seveso Directive aims to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances. Here's a useful summary for security managers on which types of site are included under the Directive and what measures it requires those sites to take.

What is the Seveso Directive?

The Seveso Directive was introduced within the EU in 1982 as a consequence of the Seveso disaster.

The Seveso disaster was an industrial accident which occurred at a chemical manufacturing plant near the Italian community of Seveso in 1976. It led to the aerial release of six tonnes of chemicals and as a result resident populations were exposed to high concentrations of TCDD, a highly toxic chemical.

The Seveso Directive aims to improve the safety of sites containing large quantities of dangerous substances

The severity of the accident prompted the adoption of European-wide legislation on the prevention and control of such accidents. This law became known as the Seveso Directive which aims to improve the safety of sites containing large quantities of dangerous substances.

From Seveso I to Seveso III

The first Directive came into force in 1982, was amended in 1996 and again in 2012. The current legislation – Seveso-III or Directive 2012/18/EU – takes into account changes in European Union legislation on the classification of chemicals and increased rights for citizens to access information.

The Impact of the Seveso Directive

Even though the EU has a high rate of industrialisation, the Seveso Directive has helped keep the number of major accidents down. The Directive is also used as a benchmark for industrial accident policy and for legislation in many countries outside of the EU.

What is a Seveso Site?

The Directive now applies to more than 10,000 industrial sites across the EU, mainly in the chemical, petrochemical, logistics and metal refining sectors. 

seveso-site.jpgAmong the 49 activities used to categorise Seveso sites, seven activities cover 50% of them:

  1. Fuel storage (including heating, retail sale, etc.)
  2. Wholesale and retail storage and distribution (excluding LPG - liquefied petroleum gas)
  3. LPG storage
  4. General chemicals manufacture
  5. Production of basic organic chemicals
  6. Power generation, supply and distribution
  7. LPG production, bottling and bulk distribution

Neither military sites not nuclear power plants are included in the Directive. Military sites are exempt because their inclusion would make certain information public which would be a threat to national security. Safety at nuclear power plants is already covered by other legislation.

Main Requirements for Seveso Sites

Operators of Seveso sites are obliged to take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences for human health and the environment.

The requirements include:

• Notification of all concerned establishments

• Deploying a major accident prevention policy

• Producing a safety report for upper-tier establishments

• Producing internal emergency plans for upper tier establishments

• Providing information in case of accidents


Sources: European Commission, EU reports, Wikipedia


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