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Explosives and Pyrotechnic Sites

Mutual Joint Visit Workshop for Seveso Inspectors
Tonsberg, Norway     9-11 November 2016


Good Practice Report - A Technical Summary               Link to Agenda and Presentations

Explosive and pyrotechnic sites make up about 16% of all Seveso sites in European Union and Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries.  Accidents involving explosives are still occurring with a regular tendency, with to two to four events a year almost every year since 2000 recorded as major accidents in the EU's eMARS database. In the last five years alone, there were twenty major accidents in Europe involving explosive substances . Many  appear to be repeat accidents, that is, the same accident occurred more than once within the same facility over a number of years. This recurrence is a strong indication that many sites are still failing to learn from past accidents. [See JRC Lessons Learned Bulletin on Major Accidents Involving Explosives.]

Explosive and pyrotechnic sites pose specific challenges for risk management and enforcement. The high volatility of their inputs and products means that there is often no warning time to mitigate accident impacts. Whereas with other types of dangerous substances there may be a window of opportunity to stop the chain of events leading to an accident or implement mitigatin measures, there is usually no such grace period once an explosive event is initiated.  This factor places a high dependency on hazard identification and awareness, strict adherence to procedures for accident prevention, and mitigation measures that create barriers from vulnerable objects (e.g., using distance and structures), particularly people and other dangerous processes.  The high risk of explosives particularly challenges to small business owners and businesses downstream from production, such as warehouses, who can typically have less resources or competencefor explosive hazards management. "Mobile explosive manufacturing" units pose unique challenges for ensuring that risk assessment, and impact mitigation and emergency planning measures are appropriate for all situations.

This MJV workshop aims to look at how oversight and enforcement obligations of the Seveso Directive can influence improved risk management of these facilities taking into account the specific challenges they face.The workshop has organised discussions around the following themes:

  • Learning from accidents
  • Land-use planning and security issues
  • Mobile explosives manufacturing
  • Inspection of explosive sites