Legislation  A Definition

European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 74 of 2006)

These Regulations were signed by the Minister on 15 February 2006 and came into operation from that date.

The Regulations transpose Council Directive 96/82/EC on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances as amended by Directive 2003/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.

The Regulations revoke and replace –

(i) the European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 476 of 2000), and

(ii) the European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances)(Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 402 of 2003).

The Regulations apply to establishments where dangerous substances are present in amounts equal to or exceeding the application thresholds.

Operators of establishments are required to take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of major accidents and to limit the consequences of accidents for people and the environment.

The Regulations impose duties in respect of safety management systems, preparation of safety reports and emergency preparedness.

The Regulations also deal with provision of advice on major hazards in the context of land-use planning decisions.

The Regulations set out the arrangements for the appointment of competent authorities, enforcement and the provision of information.

The Regulations provide for the levying of charges by competent authorities for duties performed pursuant to these Regulations.

The principal changes incorporated in the new Regulations include the following -

Schedule 1 (which replicates the amended Annex 1 of Directive 96/82/EC) determines the application of the Regulations. The definition of dangerous substance has been changed to follow more exactly the definition in Directive 96/82/EC.

The definition of establishment has been extended to cover the situation where two or more areas under the control of the same person and separated only by a road, railway or inland waterway shall be treated as one whole area; this approach will give a more realistic presentation of the major accident profile of an area.

The application of the Regulations has been extended as per Directive 2003/105/EC to cover –

- chemical and thermal processing operations and storage related to operations associated with the exploitation of minerals,

- operational tailings disposal facilities, including tailing ponds or dams, containing dangerous substances as defined in Schedule 1, in particular when used in connection with the chemical and thermal processing of minerals.

The non-application of the Regulations to offshore exploration has been made more explicit.

The timeframe (3 months) for the preparation of the major accident prevention policy document (MAPP) by new establishments has been incorporated as per the Directive.

Operators of existing establishments must, where necessary, amend their MAPP document within 3 months of the commencement of the Regulations.

The scope of the safety management system to be addressed under the MAPP has been extended as per the Directive to include the role of subcontracted personnel and their training, including preparation for emergencies.

Operators of new establishments must send Notifications to the Central Competent Authority (Health and Safety Authority) within 3 months of the commencement of the Regulations, as per the Directive.

Operators of existing establishments must, where necessary, amend their Notifications within one month of the commencement of the Regulations.

The content of Safety Reports with regard to the assessment of the extent and severity of the consequences of identified major accidents has been further detailed as per the Directive to include maps, images or, as appropriate, equivalent descriptions, showing areas which are liable to be affected by such accidents.

Safety Reports will contain the names of the relevant organisations involved in the drawing up of the report, as required by the Directive.

Operators of establishments which subsequently fall within the scope of the Directive will have one year to submit a Safety Report (as per the Directive) and, where necessary, operators of existing establishments will have 6 months, or longer as may be agreed with the HSA, to amend their reports,

Operators of establishments which subsequently fall within the scope of the Directive will have 6 months to prepare an internal emergency plan.

Operators of existing establishments shall, where necessary, amend their internal emergency plans within one month of the new regulations coming into force.

The Central Competent Authority may consult as appropriate with the Environmental Protection Agency on the information contained in a safety report that is relevant to the possible risks of environmental pollution from a major accident.

Under the Regulations, the Central Competent Authority does not have to rely solely on information from notifications/Safety Reports to determine the presence of a group of establishments where there is likely to be a “domino effect”

The scale of charges applicable under Regulation 46 is that specified from time to time by the relevant Minister.