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Major accidents involving dangerous chemicals



Directive 2012/18/EU on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances


It aims to control major accident hazards involving dangerous substances, especially chemicals.

This Directive, so-called Seveso-III, amended the previous Seveso-II (Directive 96/82/EC), which, in view of the lessons learned from later accidents such as Bhopal, Toulouse or Enschede, had amended the original Seveso-Directive (Directive 82/501/EEC), after the catastrophic accident in the Italian town of Seveso in 1976 prompted the adoption of legislation on the prevention and control of such accidents.


This legislation has been changed to give the public stronger rights. It provides them with better access to information about the risks which might occur from nearby industrial installations and how to react in the event of an accident.

That information, which explains how alerts will be sounded and how the public should act, must be available online.

What has changed?

The law now covers some 12,000 industrial sites across the EU where chemicals or petrochemicals are used or stored, or where metal refining takes place.

Every EU country must ensure measures are in place to deal with accidents in areas around industrial installations housing large quantities of dangerous products:

Companies handling these substances above certain thresholds must:

  • regularly inform the people who could be affected by an accident
  • provide safety reports
  • establish a safety management system
  • put in place an internal emergency plan.

The new law also:

  • tightens the procedures for public consultation on projects, plans and programmes involving plants covered by the legislation.
  • ensures, through changes to land-use planning laws, that new plants are sited a safe distance away from existing ones.
  • allows people to go to court if they consider they have not been properly informed or involved.
  • introduces stricter inspection standards for the various installations, to ensure the safety rules are being effectively implemented.

Why the update?

The latest legislation takes account of certain technical European and international changes in the way chemicals are classified.


Considering the very high rate of industrialisation in the EU, the Seveso Directive has contributed to achieving a low frequency of major accidents. The Directive is widely considered as a benchmark for industrial accident policy and has been a role model for legislation in many countries worldwide.

For more information, please see:


It has applied since 13 August 2012. EU countries must apply the new rules from 1 June 2015.


Directive 2012/18/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directive 96/82/EC (OJ L 197, 24.7.2012, pp. 1-37)


Report from the Commission on the application in the Member States of Directive 96/82/EC on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances for the period 2012-2014 (COM(2017) 665 final of 16 November 2017)

last update 04.06.2018