DCAN 12: Planning Control for Hazardous Substances
The COMAH Directive
3.Directive 96/82/EC 5 on the control of major-accident hazards (the COMAH Directive) came into force on 3 February 1999 and supersedes the Seveso Directive. The aim of the Directive is to prevent major accidents which involve dangerous substances and to limit their consequences for man and the environment.
4.The Directive requires Member States to introduce controls on establishments where dangerous substances are present above certain quantities. The controls vary according to the quantity of dangerous substances kept or used on the site. The dangerous substances and qualifying quantities are set out in Annex I to the Directive. The list comprises 32 named substances but, in addition, it also includes 10 generic categories of substances which has the effect of extending the scope of the Directive to a very wide range of substances.
5.The COMAH Directive will be implemented in Northern Ireland by the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 1 . These Regulations place a duty on operators subject to the Regulations to notify the Competent Authority, that is the body responsible for enforcing the Regulations, of their activities. For all hazardous substances including explosives, the Competent Authority will be the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment, acting jointly.
6.For establishments with larger amounts of dangerous substances (known as “top-tier” sites) the requirements include the notification of their activities to the Competent Authority, preparation of safety reports, public access to safety reports, preparation and testing of onsite emergency plans, providing HSENI with sufficient information to enable them to arrange for the preparation of off-site emergency plans and providing information to the public likely to be affected by a major accident. Lower tier sites are also required to notify the Competent Authority of the presence of dangerous substances and to have in place major-accident prevention policies.
5 OJ L 10/13, 14.1.97