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Brussels, 28 October 2010

Environment: Commission asks Spain to comply with Court ruling on industrial accidents

The European Commission is asking Spain to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Justice on emergency planning for major industrial accidents. In March of this year, the Court found that Spain was failing to implement the Seveso Directive, legislation that obliges Member States to draw up emergency plans to cover major accidents involving dangerous substances. The Commission is concerned that six months after the Court ruling, no such plans exist for 24 potentially dangerous industrial installations. At the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, it has therefore decided to issue a Letter of Formal Notice under ongoing infringement proceedings. If the necessary actions are not taken by the Spanish authorities, the Commission may decide to take Spain back to Court to request financial penalties.

On 25 March 2010 the European Court of Justice declared that Spain had failed to draw up external emergency plans for a considerable number of establishments covered by the Seveso Directive, a piece of legislation intended to minimize the risks from major accident hazards involving dangerous substances.

Under the Directive, emergency plans are drawn up to provide a framework for containing and controlling incidents so as to minimize their effects, and to limit damage to citizens, the environment and property. Such plans cover measures that should be taken outside installations during a major accident or emergency. The plans must contain on-site and off-site mitigation actions and also include arrangements for providing the public with specific information relating to the accident and the behaviour to adopt.

Spain had claimed that the Directive contained no effective timescale for drawing up such plans, a claim that the Court refuted.

The information made available to the Commission shows that, so far, the authorities have not drawn up external emergency plans for 24 establishments to which the Seveso Directive applies. Spain has therefore not taken all the necessary measures to comply with the judgement of 25 March 2010, and a Letter of Formal Notice is being sent. If the appropriate action is not taken by the Spanish authorities, the Commission may decide to refer the case back to Court and request financial penalties.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:


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