5.3 Emergency planning as a formal requirement
Several pieces of legislation make the preparation of emergency plans a statutory requirement. The European Directive on the control of major accident hazards (Council of the European Union, 1996a), the ‘Seveso II Directive’, outlines the planning requirements for industrial sites with large inventories of hazardous substances. In the UK, the requirements of this directive have been incorporated into the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (Health and Safety Executive, 1999a). If the site inventory of hazardous substances exceeds the quantities laid down in the regulations, site operators must prepare an on-site ‘Major Accident Prevention Policy’ document (MAPP).
Sites with very large inventories – designated ‘top-tier’ sites – must also prepare and submit for approval a safety report, demonstrating among other things that the company has:
put into effect a major accident prevention policy and safety management system;
identified the major accident hazards and taken the necessary measures to prevent accidents and to limit their consequences for humans and for the environment;
incorporated adequate safety and reliability into the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the installation.
The ‘necessary measures’ to limit human and environmental consequences include the preparation of off-site emergency plans drawn up by the local authority, in conjunction with the company. In some cases there is also a requirement to inform residents in designated ‘Public Information Zones’ around sites of on-site activities, the sorts of emergency that might arise, and the precautions to be taken if an incident occurs.
There are a number of exclusions, such as risks from military sites, hazards created by ionising radiation, pipelines and waste disposal sites. These are mostly to avoid overlapping legislation as other directives apply. For example, radiation risks are covered by Directive 96/29 Euratom (Council of the European Union, 1996b) and implemented in the UK by the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations. Although based on separate legislation, the emergency planning requirements for nuclear facilities and chemical sites are broadly similar.
Emergency planning provisions are also incorporated into the licensing arrangements for sites such as major airports. The reason for emergency planning for sites covered by these legal and/or licensing requirements is quite simple. Without it, they are not allowed to operate.