Dutch plan tighter hazardous site safety rules

Post-Enschede proposals include wider separation distances for fireworks factories

Dutch environment minister Jan Pronk has issued plans for a new law on firework manufacture and safety following May's huge explosion at a fireworks factory in Enschede, which killed and injured scores of people (ENDS Daily 18 May).

The ministry wants to require greater distances between housing and firework manufacturing plants, as well as strengthening regional authorities' licensing powers over relevant businesses. It is also compiling an inventory of fireworks companies and their safety procedures.

A spokesperson told ENDS Daily today that the government was also preparing to propose a more general law on all types of hazardous industrial plants, including greater mandatory distances from housing. This will form part of the Netherlands' transposition of the EU Seveso II directive on hazardous installations. A national inventory of all hazardous activities and installations is planned, to be made available to the public as well as regional authorities.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) the Netherlands yesterday described the fireworks proposal as "insufficient", arguing that there should be new measures now for all hazardous industrial plants.

It presented the environment ministry with a list of some 200 hazardous installations situated within local communities, naming over 160 companies, including multinationals BP, Shell and Solvay. Installations ranged from storage sites for agricultural chemicals to firms transporting hazardous substances through built-up areas. Regional authorities should also be able to compensate companies forced to shut down factories or move to another site, the group said.

Follow Up:
Dutch environment ministry, tel: +31 70 339 3939; FoE the Netherlands, tel: +31 20 550 7300 and hazardous installations file.

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