28 June 2005: UK updates regulations on hazardous substances

Amended UK regulations covering ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate and petroleum products will come into effect at the end of June, the Health and Safety Executive has announced.   

The Seveso II Directive will broaden the scope of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) to include the latest data on carcinogens and substances dangerous to the environment. Information from recent industrial accidents is also included. The regulations are intended to minimise the consequences for those who live near establishments working with specific substances, and to prevent major accidents.     

The regulations will include, among others: a redefinition of ammonium nitrate to cover lower percentage composition; raised threshold limits for existing carcinogens, and the addition of seven new carcinogens; and a new category for petroleum products to include gas oils such as diesel, and naphtha, with thresholds that are half those of the previous automotive petrol category.     

'The changes to COMAH brought about by these amendments reflect the lessons learned from accidents in France, the Netherlands and Romania, and EC recommendations about the major accident potential of high and medium-potency carcinogens and substances dangerous for the environment,' said Mike Tonge, head of the HSE major hazards policy group. 'HSE advises all operators of existing COMAH establishments and other business that use or handle dangerous chemicals to check whether they will be affected by the changes.' Fiona Salvage