Explainer: What are Seveso risk sites and where are they in France?

2022-08-04

There are over 1,300 French chemical plants or other sites classed under EU directives as posing a particular risk to the surrounding environment

Yesterday (August 3), an explosion occurred at a factory located on the Eurenco site in Bergerac (Dordogne), injuring eight people – one seriously – and leading to a fire requiring the deployment of 60 firefighters.

The factory was a powder mill classed as a high-level Seveso site, but what does this mean in terms of regulation and risk to local populations?

Seveso sites are named after a 1976 industrial accident which occurred near the town of Seveso, in the Lombardy region of Italy.

The factory only had very rudimentary safety systems and environmental protection had not been considered.

Therefore, when a valve broke at the factory and released a chemical cloud containing the toxic dioxin TCDD, the local population were caught unaware.

Land and vegetation surrounding the factory were contaminated and thousands of animals died.

The company which ran the plant only admitted to the accident nearly a week after it occurred, but by then, cases of dioxin poisoning were already being reported, and 600 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Some 2,000 local residents were treated for dioxin poisoning.

It was later ranked as the eighth worst man-made environmental disaster by Time magazine in 2010.

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The Connexion, 4-08-22
; https://www.connexionfrance.com/article/Practical/Environment/Explainer-What-are-Seveso-risk-sites-and-where-are-they-in-France