Several major accidents implicating dangerous substances have left a deep impression on the public opinion and have led to the adoption of several directives with 3 main objectives:
- prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances;
- limit the consequences of any major accidents on humans and the environment;
- ensure a high level of protection.
These directives, known as 'Seveso' Directives impose certain precautionary measures in terms of land-use planning policy in an effort to better control urban development in the vicinity of high-risk establishments.
Establishments covered by 'Seveso' legislation must notify or update the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (ITM) about any dangerous substances they use and which exceed a certain threshold.
Who is concerned
The 'Seveso' Directive applies in the case of the installation or operation of an establishment where toxic, explosive, flammable, combustive or environmentally dangerous substances are present or foreseen in quantities which exceed the regulatory thresholds.
The establishments concerned are classified into 2 categories (distinguished in terms of the quantities and not the nature of the product):
- lower-tier establishments, i.e. establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities equal to or in excess of the quantities listed in annex 1, part 1 and 2 in column 2, but lower than those in column 3 of the law;
- upper-tier establishments, i.e. establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities equal to or in excess of the quantities listed in annex 1, part 1 and 2 in column 3 of the law.
Substances that may be generated during a loss of control of an industrial chemical process (e.g. uncontrolled rise in temperature, reactive substances coming into contact, etc.), as well as mixtures and waste products likely to be present are also included.
The 'Seveso' legislation applies to the following establishments:
- cement factory;
- steel plant;
- chemical factory;
- petrochemical site;
- oil depot;
- explosives depot;
- gunpowder factory.
The following are excluded from the scope of application of the 'Seveso' provisions:
- military establishments, installations and storage facilities;
- hazards created by substances emitting ionising radiation;
- the transport of dangerous substances by road, rail, inland waterways, sea or air, as well as all intermediate temporary storage in relation with the transport;
- the transport of dangerous substances in pipelines, including pumping stations, outside of the establishments concerned;
- exploitation (prospecting, extraction and processing) of minerals in mines and quarries, including by means of boreholes;
- prospection and offshore exploitation of mineral substances, including hydrocarbons;
- storage of gas in underground sites offshore, whether the site in question is for storage purposes only or for storage purposes in conjunction with prospection activities and exploitation of mineral substances, including hydrocarbons;
- waste land-fill sites, including underground storage of waste.
Without prejudice to points 5 and 8 above, the underground storage of gas on land in natural strata, aquifers, salt caves and disused mines and chemical and thermal processing operations and storage related to those operations which involve dangerous substances, as well as operational tailings disposal facilities, including tailing ponds or dams, containing dangerous substances, are included within the scope of the 'Seveso' legislation.
Projects falling within the scope of the 'Seveso' legislation are subject to an operating permit for classified establishments.
For this reason, it is necessary to verify that all required elements for the preparation of the application are available.
In the case of new establishments or changes implying a change in the inventory of dangerous substances (update), the operator must send a notification of dangerous substances at the same time as the 'Seveso' authorisation request at the latest.
How to proceed
Notification of dangerous substances
Operators of establishments covered by the 'Seveso' legislation must send a notification (or update) of dangerous substances in 4 copies by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt to the Inspectorate of Labor and Mines (ITM) within the set deadline.
This notification must include, among others:
- the operator's name or the company name and the full address of the establishment in question;
- the operator's registered office with the address in full;
- the name or title of the establishment's manager if the manager is different from the operator;
- information allowing the dangerous substances to be identified, and the class of substances concerned or likely to be present;
- the quantity and physical form of the substances in question;
- the activity carried out or planned in the installation or storage area;
- a description of the environment surrounding the establishment including of the elements liable to cause a major accident, or aggravate the consequences thereof, and the contact information (e.g. address, coordinates) of the neighbouring establishments, if any.
Major accident prevention policy
Operators of establishments subject to the 'Seveso' regulation must define a major accident prevention policy and send it to the Directorate of Labour and Mines (ITM) in 3 copies by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, unless they have already sent a major accident prevention policy to the Environment Agency before 3 May 2017, and that the information contained therein is unchanged.
The major accident prevention policy aims to ensure a high level of protection for the safety and health of people as well as the environment and must be proportionate to the major-accident hazards.
The policy must include the operator's overall objectives and principles of action, the role and responsibility of the management, as well as the commitment to continuously improve the prevention and control of major-accident hazards in order to ensure a high level of safety.
The operator must periodically review the major accident prevention policy and update it at least every 5 years. The updated document must be sent to the ITM in 3 copies by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
The operator must draw up a safety report and send the document to the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (ITM) in 3 copies by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
The purpose of this report is to:
- demonstrate that a major accident prevention policy and a safety management system for implementing it have been put into effect in accordance with the regulations in force;
- demonstrate that major-accident hazards and possible major-accident scenarios have been identified and that the necessary measures have been taken to prevent such accidents and to limit their consequences for human health and the environment;
- demonstrate that adequate safety and reliability have been taken into account in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of any installation, storage facility, equipment and infrastructure connected with its operation which are linked to major-accident hazards inside the establishment;
- demonstrate that internal emergency plans are in place;
- provide sufficient information to the competent authorities to enable decisions to be made regarding the siting of new activities or developments around existing establishments;
- for upper-tier establishments, provide elements for drawing up an external emergency plan.
The safety report must be sent to the ITM:
- for new establishments: no later than 6 months before the beginning of construction or operation, or before any modifications that result in a change in the inventory of dangerous substances;
- for existing establishments as well as for existing lower-tier establishments: before 3 May 2019.
Operators subject to part 2 of annex I of the law do not need to send a notification to the ITM if they already sent a notification to the Environment Agency before 3 May 2017, and that the information contained therein is unchanged.
Operators must periodically review the safety report and update it at least every 5 years, as well as:
- after a major accident in their establishment;
- at any other time on their own initiative;
- at the request of the competent administrations;
- when new elements justify it;
- to take into account new technical knowledge gained in matters of safety.
The updated document must be sent to the ITM in 3 copies by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
The operator of an establishment must develop an internal emergency plan under the guidance of an accredited body.
The objective of the emergency plan is to limit the consequences of a potential accident.
The operator of an upper-tier establishment also provides the necessary information to the Luxembourg Rescue Services Agency to enable it to draw up an external emergency plan.
The internal emergency plan must be developed:
- for new establishments: before the beginning of business operation or before any modifications resulting in a change in the inventory of dangerous substances;
- for all other establishments: before 3 May 2019.
Internal and external emergency plans must be reviewed at appropriate intervals which cannot exceed 3 years. The re-evaluation must take into account any change implemented by the establishment as well as new technical knowledge with respect to measures to be taken in the event of a major accident.
The operator must inform the competent authorities in the event of:
- a significant increase or decrease of the quantities or a significant modification of the nature or physical form of the dangerous substance already notified;
- modification of an establishment or installation that could have significant consequences in terms of major-accident hazards;
- definitive cessation or decommissioning of the installation (to be declared to the ITM in 5 copies by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt);
- any change in the information provided during the notification.
In this case, the operator can be forced to review their major accident prevention policy.
The operator must inform the Inspectorate of Labor and Mines, in 2 copies by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, of any planned modification of an establishment, an installation, a storage area, a process or of the nature, the physical form or the quantities of dangerous substances that may have significant consequences in terms of major-accident hazards or that may result in a lower-tier establishment becoming an upper-tier establishment, or vice versa.
This information must include the following:
- the names of the applicant and of the operator;
- the location of the establishment;
- the condition of the site;
- the object of the business operation;
- a description of the planned modifications;
- a plan of the establishment at a scale of 1:200 or more accurate, unless otherwise indicated by the administrations concerned, indicating the layout of the premises and the location of the installations in particular.
The operator is also obliged to inform the Inspectorate of Labor and Mines, the Environment Agency and the Directorate of Health after a major accident, indicating:
- the circumstances of the accident;
- the dangerous substances concerned;
- the available data required to assess the impact of the accident on humans and the environment;
- the emergency measures taken;
- the planned measures to:
- mitigate the medium and long-term effects of the accident;
- prevent such an accident from happening again.