A spectacular fire was still in progress on Thursday morning (September 26, 2019) in a Lubrizol factory classified as SEVESO in Rouen which did not cause any casualties. The prefecture has taken important measures to protect the inhabitants.
Following this event, a quick update on the SEVESO sites in France and the information available to the public.
SEVESO sites are classified according to two risk levels, high threshold and low threshold, depending on the quantity of hazardous materials present. For example, “SEVESO” is a set of European directives named after the Italian municipality hit by an accidental release of dioxin in 1975. This was a landmark scandal.
Implemented in 1982, this directive has been updated several times since then. Currently, the SEVESO 3 Directive (which came into force on 1 June 2015) makes it possible to adapt to the new CLP Regulation (Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures), and reminds us that waste must be taken into account in the classification of installations (source: http://seveso3.fr).
In general, the SEVESO Directive requires notification on the internet of a certain number of data: the nature of the substances stored and the associated risks, the contact details of the persons in charge of emergency plans, the behaviour to adopt in the event of an emergency, the date of the last inspection and the place where to consult the report. The national website of the Inspectorate of Classified Installations is the main and official source of publicly available information on the subject.
Namely, 744 of these sites are classified as “Seveso high threshold“, 635 others are “Seveso low threshold“. This difference in classification depends on the type and quantity of hazardous products present at the classified site.
Seveso factories in France include oil depots, refineries, chemical and petrochemical plants and explosives depots.