Chemical installations, petrochemical and oil refineries, and storage facilities are hazardous installations which need to be safe and secure from internal (technical failure, human error, etc.) and external (natural hazards, terrorist attacks, etc.) events. Major accidents in the chemical industry have occurred world-wide. In Europe, the Seveso accident in 1976 prompted the adoption of legislation aimed at the prevention and control of such accidents.
Through the Major Accident Hazards Bureau (MAHB), the JRC provides scientific and technical support to the Directorate-General for Environment in support to the Seveso III Directive on the control of major hazards and the prevention and mitigation of major accidents and carries out various activities with the objective to make hazardous industrial installations more resilient to disruptions and safe for the citizens and the environment.
Accurate and detailed information on past accidents can provide essential information for improving safety. The JRC manages the eMARS major accident database, a collection of industrial accident reports, including all major industrial accidents, which contains events on chemical accidents and near misses reported to the JRC by the competent National Authorities under the current and prior Seveso Directives since 1982.
The JRC also works together with competent authorities in the EU member states responsible for Seveso Directives implementation to increase the effectiveness of enforcement practices and to ensure a consistent approach with respect to interpreting Seveso requirements for example, by identifying good practices for Seveso inspections of petroleum refineries, petroleum storage depots, and safety management systems.
The JRC serves as a centre of reference for risk assessment of industrial accidents, providing guidance and offering EU member States a means to evaluate, compare and improve technical approaches for designating land-use planning, emergency planning and public information zones. The JRC also provides technical support to capacity building for industrial accident preparation and preparedness in new EU and Candidate Countries, and in third countries in collaboration with other international organisations.