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The accident near Seveso in 1976 gave its name to a European Directive (1982) aimed at reducing the risk of industrial accidents.

The Directive has a dual purpose:

  1. to avoid major accidents involving dangerous substances (prevention);
  2. to limit the consequences of such accidents for people and the environment (emergency planning).

This Directive imposes preventive safety measures, such as:

  • obligations on the operator of the establishment to
    • take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents or to mitigate their consequences
    • draw up and implement a prevention policy
    • draw up and implement an internal emergency plan
  • inspection programmes. Each region has an inspection team made up of regional and federal inspectors. They regularly check Seveso establishments during proactive inspections and follow-up inspections.
  • town and country planning. Each Seveso establishment has to obtain an environmental permit before starting its operation.
  • information to citizens. On this website you can find all necessary information about major accident hazards. Every five years there is also an information campaign.
  • organisation of assistance. The provincial governors are responsible for drawing up the special emergency and intervention plan for upper-tier establishments under the Seveso Directive.

Seveso III Directive

In 2012 the original European Directive was updated with the Seveso III Directive. The Directive contains new rules in order to better manage major accidents involving dangerous substances.

The new Directive:

  • is in line with the CLP Regulation. CLP stands for classification, labelling & packaging. This Regulation determines how chemicals must be classified, labelled and packaged. 
  • gives the public greater access to information on the environment and involves them in the decision-making. The public can give its opinion on new establishments, changes to companies and external emergency plans.
  • introduces a system of breaches of the Directive. 

Transposition into Belgian law

In order to reduce the risk of major industrial accidents in Belgium, a cooperation partnership is in place between the federal State, the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. This cooperation partnership entered into force on 10 June 2016 and transposes the European Seveso III Directive (2012) and the Helsinki Convention (1992) into Belgian law.