Dangerous substances - Prevention of major accident hazards (Seveso)

This page was last modified on 14-05-2010

This page is currently being updated.

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 2 main objectives:

  • prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances;
  • limit the consequences of any major accidents on humans and the environment.

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 installations.

Establishments concerned by the 'Seveso' Directive have to apply for a class 1 operating permit for classified establishment and must undergo an assessment which has to be included in the application.

Who is concerned

The 'Seveso' Directive applies in the case of the construction or operation of a project where toxic, explosive, flammable, combustive or environmentally dangerous substances are present or anticipated in quantities in excess of the regulatory limits.

Establishments subject to these provisions are listed in 2 categories (the distinction is based on the product quantities and not the type of product):

  • lower tier establishments, i.e. establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities equal to or in excess of the quantities listed in column 2 of parts 1 and 2 of appendix I of the applicable Grand-ducal regulation ;
  • upper tier establishments, i.e. establishments where dangerous substances are present in quantities equal to or in excess of the quantities listed in column 3 of parts 1 and 2 of appendix I of the applicable Grand-ducal regulation.

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.) are also concerned by the directive.

The 'Seveso' Directive also applies to establishments of the following type:

  • refinery;
  • cement factory;
  • steel plant;
  • chemical factory;
  • petrochemical site;
  • oil depot;
  • explosives depot;
  • gunpowder factory.

In the event that the dangerous substances are likely to be present in the quantities set forth in the regulations, the procedure also applies to the following activities:

  • intermediate temporary storage or loading and unloading activities linked to the transport by road, rail, inland waterways or air of dangerous substances;
  • the transport of dangerous substances in pipelines, including pumping stations.

The following are excluded from the scope of application of the 'Seveso' provisions:

  • military establishments, installations and storage facilities;
  • hazards created by ionising radiation;
  • the transport of dangerous substances by road, rail, inland waterways, sea or air;
  • the activities of extractive industries involving the exploration and exploitation of minerals in mines and quarries or by means of boreholes;
  • the exploitation (exploration, extraction and treatment) of minerals in mines, quarries or by means of boreholes (with the exception of chemical and thermal processing operations and storage related to those operations which involve the presence of dangerous substances);
  • exploration and exploitation of minerals, including hydrocarbons;
  • waste landfills, with the exception of tailings disposal facilities, including tailing ponds or dams, containing dangerous substances, in particular when used in connection with the chemical and thermal processing of minerals.


Any project falling under the scope of the 'Seveso' provisions is subject to a class 1 operating permit for classified establishments.

It must be ensured that all required documents for the application are available.

How to proceed

Notification of dangerous substances

The operator of an establishment falling under the 'Seveso' provisions must attach a notification of dangerous substances to his application for a class 1 operating permit for classified establishment.

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, including its full address;
  • the name or title of the establishment's manager in the event the manager is different from the operator;
  • information allowing the dangerous substances to be identified;
  • 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 immediately surrounding the establishment (elements liable to cause a major accident or aggravate the consequences thereof).

Lower tier establishments

Operators of lower tier establishments are required to implement a policy for the prevention of major accidents and to submit the document related thereto to the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (Inspection du Travail et des Mines - ITM) and the Environment Agency.

The document must namely include:

  • the roles and responsibilities of personnel involved in the management of accident hazards;
  • the identification and evaluation of the risks of major accidents;
  • on site hazard management measures;
  • the management of hazards linked to changes to the installations;
  • emergency plans;
  • monitoring performance;
  • audit and review of the accident prevention policy.

Some specialised intermediaries (offices, architects, etc.) can offer assistance with regard to the formalities to be completed with the administrations.

Upper tier establishments

Operators of an upper tier establishment must:

  • draw up a safety report and send it to the competent authorities.
    The objective of this report is to show that major accident hazards have been reduced to a minimum and that any consequences in the event of an accident have also been minimised.
    The report is divided into 5 sections:
    • major accident prevention policy (the same as for lower tier establishments);
    • presentation of the establishment's environment;
    • description of the installation;
    • identification and analysis of accident hazards and means of prevention;
    • protection and intervention measures to limit the consequences of an accident.

      The report must be reviewed at least every 5 years.
      Several reports (safety report, environmental impact assessment, risk assessment, etc.) may be merged into a single safety report in order to avoid the repetition of identical pieces of information.
  • draw up an internal emergency plan in consultation with an approved entity.
    The objective of this plan is to limit the consequences of a potential accident. Internal emergency plans may include an internal operational plan and, where applicable, an external operational plan. It includes a description of the following:
    • the names or titles of the persons entitled to launch emergency procedures, of the person responsible for palliative measures on site and the person acting as liaison with the authorities responsible for the external emergency plan;
    • the measures to be taken to control the situation for each incident that could play a role in causing a major accident;
    • the measures taken so that the competent authority is informed as quickly as possible if an incident should occur;
    • the measures taken to train personnel in the tasks they will be required to perform in the event of an incident.

      The internal emergency plan must be reviewed every 3 years at least.

The operator will also provide the competent authorities with the information they require to draw up an external emergency plan before operating commences.

The studies, assessments and reports mentioned above shall be enclosed with the application for an operating permit for classified establishments and shall form an integral part thereof. Certain elements thereof may be summarised in the application in order to better define specific aspects of the project.

Information obligation

The operator must inform the competent authorities in the event of:

  • a significant rise in the quantity and significant modification of the nature or physical form of the dangerous substance already notified;
  • a modification of the processes used;
  • a modification of the establishment or installation which could have an impact on major accident hazards;
  • the definitive shutdown of the installation.

In this case, the operator can be forced to review his accident prevention policy.

The operator is also required to inform the competent authorities about major accidents by indicating:

  • the circumstances of the accident;
  • the dangerous substances concerned;
  • the available data required to assess the impact of the accident on man and the environment;
  • the emergency measures launched;
  • the planned measures to:
    • mitigate the medium and long-term effects of the accidents;
    • prevent such an accident from happening again.

Who to contact

1, avenue du Rock'n'Roll
L-4361 - Esch-sur.Alzette
Phone: (+352) 40 56 56 1
Fax: (+352) 40 56 56 - 699

3, rue des Primeurs
L-2361 - Strassen
Postal box BP 27, L-2010
Phone: (+352) 247 76100
Fax: (+352) 247 96100
Email contact@itm.etat.lu

Opening hours
from Monday to Friday from 8.30 to 12.00 and 13.30 to 16.30