Transboundary effects of industrial accidents
By acceding to this Convention, the Community and the Member States wish to protect human health and the environment against industrial accidents capable of causing transboundary effects, and to promote active international cooperation between the contracting parties before, during and after such accidents.
Council Decision 98/685/EC of 23 March 1998 concerning the conclusion of the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents.
In Helsinki on 18 March 1992, 26 countries, including 14 Member States of the Community, and the Community itself signed the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, within the framework of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. With this Council Decision, the Convention is approved on behalf of the Community.
The Convention lays down a set of measures to protect human beings and the environment against the effects of industrial accidents, and to promote active international cooperation between the contracting parties before, during and after such accidents.
It applies to industrial accidents capable of causing transboundary effects, including accidents caused by natural disasters, with the exception of:
- nuclear accidents or radiological emergencies;
- accidents at military installations;
- dam failures;
- land-based transport accidents;
- the accidental release of genetically modified organisms;
- accidents caused by activities in the marine environment and the spillage of harmful substances at sea.
The contracting parties must identify hazardous activities within their jurisdiction and must inform the affected parties of any such proposed or existing activity. At the initiative of any one of them, the other parties must enter into discussions on the identification of activities capable of causing transboundary effects.
The signatory states must take appropriate measures to prevent industrial accidents. In particular they must:
- induce action by operators to reduce the risk of industrial accidents;
- establish policies on the siting of new hazardous activities and on significant modifications to existing hazardous activities, with the objective of minimising the risk to the population and the environment;
- prepare for emergencies caused by industrial accidents, introducing the necessary measures, including contingency plans, to prevent and minimise transboundary effects. The signatories must endeavour to make their plans compatible.
Under the Convention, the contracting states must ensure that adequate information is given to the public in the areas capable of being affected by an industrial accident arising out of a hazardous activity. The contracting states must also, in appropriate cases, give the public an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process concerning prevention and preparedness measures.
Natural or legal persons who are, or may be, affected by the transboundary effects of an industrial accident in the territory of a signatory state must be given the same access to the relevant administrative and judicial proceedings as a national of the state concerned.
Each party to the Convention must introduce a system of notification.
In the event or imminent threat of an industrial accident causing or capable of causing transboundary effects, the state of origin must:
- notify the affected states without delay;
- ensure that the contingency plans are activated;
- ensure that the response measures are taken as swiftly as possible so as to contain and minimise the effects of the accident. The contracting states must endeavour to coordinate their response measures.
The state of origin may ask for assistance from the other signatories.
Each contracting party must designate one point of contact for the purpose of industrial accident notifications and one point of contact for the purpose of mutual assistance. It must notify these to the other signatories within three months of the date of entry into force of the Convention.
The contracting parties must actively encourage scientific and technical cooperation and facilitate the exchange of technology for limiting the risks and consequences of industrial accidents. They must also support appropriate international efforts to draw up rules on responsibility and liability.
The parties to the Convention must meet at least once a year.
The Convention provides for three mechanisms for settling disputes between the signatories:
- seeking a solution by negotiation;
- submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice;
The last two methods can be used only in cases where the parties have been unable to settle their dispute by negotiation.
The use of these methods is optional and reciprocal; in a written declaration, a party can accept the compulsory use of one or both of these methods in their relations with any other party which accepts the same obligation.
If the parties to the dispute have accepted both means of dispute settlement, the dispute may be submitted only to the International Court of Justice, unless the states concerned agree otherwise.
The signatory states must keep the other parties regularly informed of the implementation of the Convention.
The Convention entered into force for the European Community on 19 April 2000.
|Act||Entry into force - Date of expiry||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Decision 98/685/EC||23.03.1998||-||OJ L 326 of 03.12.1998|