There are no emergency plans to cover major accidents at 24 dangerous industrial sites in Spain

The European Commission asked 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 Potocnik, the Commission 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.

The Seveso Directive is intended to minimise 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 minimise their effects, and to limit damage to citizens, the environment and property.

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