Many of you will be aware of the COMAH regulations, which have been in force since 1999. Today, 1st June, new regulations are in force in Great Britain. The new regulations are known as The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 (Statutory Instrument 2015 No. 483).
In brief, COMAH refers to regulations to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances, and limit consequences to people and the environment of any that do occur. It creates what are known as 'upper tier' and 'lower tier' sites and places legal requirements on them.
A major accident for the purpose of the regulations is any major emission, fire or explosion leading to serious danger to human health or the environment, immediate or delayed, inside or outside the establishment.
Moving from COMAH 1999 to 2015 bring key changes that include:
(a) Emergency planning arrangements for lower tier sites;
(b) Plan testing - a duty on designated authorities to co-operate;
(c) Improved public information;
(d) Local authorities to give information to people concerned after an accident;
(e) New duties for warning and informing placed on lower tier sites.
The EPS has operated a COMAH and Pipelines Professional Working Group (PWG) for many years and is very active in this area, with members drawn from the HSE and other relevant partners. Its current Chair is Norman Powell. The EPS is working with the HSE to determine how best to improve awareness of about the legal and emergency planning implications of the new regulations.
Members can access the relevant documents and information by going to the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk/comah and also the EPS website, where the new regulations are posted in the 'Resources' section, under 'COMAH'.
The EPS will be publishing more information regarding COMAH.