Since June 2015 there have been considerable changes to the way major hazard sites are managed in Ireland and the EU. The Seveso III Directive (Directive 2012/18/EU) was adopted by the European Commission in July 2012 and must now be implemented by each member state. In Ireland this is facilitated through the Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations S.I. No. 209 of 2015.
The COMAH regulations were first introduced in 1999 and provided the foundation for this revised legislation which deals with the control of onshore major accident hazards involving dangerous substances. The legislation applies to establishments storing or handling large quantities of hazardous chemicals (as defined in Schedule 1 of the Regulations). Sites are categorised as lower or upper tier depending upon the quantities of hazardous chemicals in-situ.
The revised COMAH regulations take into account, amongst other factors, the changes in EU legislation on the classification of chemicals and increased rights for citizens to access information and justice. The primary driver for change has been the introduction of the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for classifying and labelling chemicals; where GHS is implemented in Europe through the CLP Regulation 1272/2008 which is now used to define the scope of COMAH dangerous substances. Furthermore, the directive now aligns with the Aarhus Convention that will require operators to share more information with the public.
These changes, however, have not altered the fundamental framework of COMAH, and the application of a risk-based approach for major hazard control is still at the core of the Regulations. The main changes concern the scope of substances and freedom of information. There have been changes to some of the dangerous substance categories resulting in some substances moving in and out of scope and so impacting what sites are covered by COMAH or the tier they are classified within. All sites are now required to make available basic information on their activities and the nature of the potential major accident hazards, in addition to their control and emergency response procedures.
Operators will need to familiarise themselves with the changes to ensure compliance and guidance to help them to achieve this is available from the competent authority.
COMAH operators will therefore need to construct safety reports that present a clear picture of the hazards and risks, both safety and environmental, presented by the site in line with the changes required by SEVESO III. The safety report is a ‘Key Process Safety Management’ tool for a site
Lawlor Technology Ltd., will work with clients to develop and submit the Safety Report to the competent authority in addition to providing engineering support and compliance assistance.