Keywords: dioxins, European policy, major accidents, industrial hazards, environmental pollution, regulation, Seveso Directive, Seveso accident, Italy, high technology, high tech industry, consumer satisfaction, environmental costs, legislation
Seveso: from pollution to regulation
The first part of the paper analyses the Seveso accident, which occurred in 1976 in northern Italy. It focuses mainly on sociological and organisational aspects, pointing to the lack of preparation and the improvisation in response from the company and the public authorities. Despite such inadequacies and despite all suffering, community recovery was finally accomplished. Yet, to some extent, this local success in recovery was achieved by exporting part of the problem. In this sense Seveso is representative of high technology industry, where successful consumer satisfaction has so far been sustained by the 'externalising' of its environmental costs and also social problems. The second part of the paper analyses and discusses the 'Seveso Directive', whose approval was accelerated by the Seveso accident. This establishes European legislation on major accident hazards, of which an essential feature is publicity about industrial operations.