Seveso III

Seveso III is a European Union law aimed at improving the safety of sites containing large quantities of dangerous substances.

Major industrial accidents involving dangerous chemicals pose a significant threat to humans and the environment. Furthermore such accidents cause huge economic losses and disrupt sustainable growth. However, the use of large amounts of dangerous chemicals is unavoidable in some industry sectors which are vital for a modern industrialised society. To minimise the associated risks, measures are necessary to prevent major accidents and to ensure appropriate preparedness and response should such accidents nevertheless happen.


In Europe, the catastrophic accident in the Italian town of Seveso in1976 prompted the adoption of legislation on the prevention and control of such accidents. The so-called Seveso-Directive (Directive 82/501/EEC) was later amended in view of the lessons learned from later accidents such as Bhopal, Toulouse or Enschede resulting into Seveso-II (Directive 96/82/EC). In 2012 Seveso-III (Directive 2012/18/EU) was adopted taking into account, amongst others, the changes in the Union legislation on the classification of chemicals and increased rights for citizens to access information and justice. It replaces the previous Seveso II directive.

The Directive now applies to more than 10 000 industrial establishments in the European Union where dangerous substances are used or stored in large quantities, mainly in the chemical, petrochemical, logistics and metal refining sectors. Considering the very high rate of industrialisation in the European Union the Seveso Directive has contributed to achieving a low frequency of major accidents. The Directive is widely considered as a benchmark for industrial accident policy and has been a role model for legislation in many countries world-wide.