Anyone who handles certain quantities of certain hazardous substances and is therefore the operator of an operating area must, in accordance with the Major Accidents Ordinance (Twelfth Ordinance on the Implementation of the Federal Immission Control Act - 12th BImSchV), take measures to prevent major accidents and keep their effects as low as possible. This applies irrespective of whether or not the respective plant is subject to immission control licensing. In Bavaria, there are about 475 such operating areas. Most of these are large industrial plants such as refineries and chemical plants, but biogas plants and hazardous materials storage facilities can also be operating areas.
The safety of persons in the operating area and also in the neighbourhood as well as the protection of the environment must be ensured, otherwise the installation of the operating area from which an impermissible hazard emanates must not be operated. When taking precautions to prevent incidents, various causes must be taken into account by the operator, unless they can be reasonably excluded. Such causes may be, for example, operational sources of danger such as the failure of a technical facility, but also environmental sources of danger (e.g. earthquakes, floods, infrastructure) or the intervention of unauthorised persons. Every operator of operating areas is also obliged to set up and apply a so-called safety management system.
Sufficient distances must be ensured for the protection of human health and the environment in the case of new establishments and changes in their surroundings (e.g. approaching residential development). The operator of an operating area with a particularly high hazard potential (operating area of the "upper class") must prepare a detailed safety report and provide detailed information on safety measures and on the correct behaviour in the event of an incident to all persons and facilities open to the public as well as to operating sites or neighbouring operating areas that could be affected by an incident. Operators of operating areas with a lower hazard potential (operating areas of the "lower class") also generally have to make various information available to the public.
The competent authorities in Bavaria are the immission control authorities and - if external emergency plans are to be drawn up - the disaster control authorities, (i.e. usually the district administrative authority, i.e. the district administration office or the municipality not belonging to a district). Since the handling of hazardous substances also affects the employees who work directly with these substances, the occupational health and safety authorities (factory inspectorates) are also involved in reviewing and advising the operating areas. Further concerned authorities may also be the water management authorities, e.g. because of water protection. The monitoring under incident law with the participation of all authorities concerned is carried out under the auspices of the competent government.
If you are interested in more detailed information on a specific area of operation, please contact the operator, as he will provide information on his operation and the measures he has taken.
The European legal basis for the Major Accidents Ordinance is Directive 2012/18/EU of 4 July 2012 on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (the so-called Seveso III Directive). The Seveso III Directive was transposed into German law mainly by revising the 12th BImSchV and the Federal Immission Control Act.