Update on Seveso III / COMAH 2015 Regulations 

Brief background

Over the past months REA has been seeking clarification from the HSE and other stakeholders on whether Seveso III Directive*, coming into force in the UK in June 2015 as COMAH Regulations, will apply to digestates. For more detail on COMAH please see our recent CLARIFICATION NOTE ON REACH, CLP AND COMAH REGULATIONS.  

To date the HSE has not been able to provide a definitive answer and continues to work on the issue. This work includes interacting with some of the European Member States and with DEFRA to come to a solution. The HSE will keep REA and other interested trade bodies informed of the progress. 

Latest update on Seveso III and digestates 

A recent informal update from the DG Enterprise** suggests that if digestates are caught under the regime of Seveso III, its implications could be even more severe than we originally anticipated. The Commission stated that the revised Seveso could capture all digestates, regardless of their ‘waste’ or a ‘product’ status [we were previously under the impression that a waste exemption would apply under the Directive, as in the case of REACH regulation].  The update was provided by the Commission to a representative of the AD Operator Working Group. We are currently seeking written confirmation from the Commission that this is really the case. 

The REA, ADBA and the AD Operator Working Group are liaising closely on this issue and are continuing to engage with the HSE and Defra to:

• fully understand the impact of COMAH Regs on the AD industry, and
• identify what advice AD trade bodies should be giving to their members over the next few months. 

Request for data

As this is an issue for the whole digestate industry across Europe, REA and ADBA have also been liaising with their representatives in Europe (EBA and ECN). We are pleased to say that EBA is working with their Scientific Advisory Council on collating any existing measured data that could assist in verifying whether digestate is an aquatic pollutant or not. Results from this investigation should be available soon. ECN is also looking into this issue very closely. 

If you have any information / scientific data or tests available on the aquatic toxicity of digestates it would be very useful if you could share it with us. For information the aquatic toxicity of digestate research programme conducted by the Czech Biogas Association involves:
  • Determination of acute lethal toxicity of substances to a freshwater fish [Brachydanio rerio Hamilton-Buchanan (Teleostei, Cyprinidae)] -- Part 2: Semi-static method (ISO 7346-2:1996)
  • Determination of the inhibition of the mobility of Daphnia magna Straus (Cladocera, Crustacea) -- Acute toxicity test (ISO 6341:2012)
  • Fresh water algal growth inhibition test with unicellular green algae (ISO 8692:2012)
We would be thankful for any relevant information, please send it to Kiara at REA ( This would be extremely helpful to inform the work currently being undertaken by EBA.   

REA working for you

Meanwhile REA’s Health and Safety Officer Gordon Thompson is working for you to identify what are the key requirements of COMAH 2015 Regulations, summarise them and to estimate how long it would take to implement them.  Of course we hope that the results of EBA’s research programme will tell us that digestate is not classed as an aquatic pollutant and we will continue to lobby for the exclusion of digestate, but we also need to ensure that in the event this ends up not being the case, the industry is prepared and can implement the requirements as swiftly as possible prior to the date of entry into force. We will endeavour to keep you informed of progress made with regard to this matter.  

If you need any clarification, please contact Kiara (07717 294793, or Gordon (07584 253 733, 

* Directive 2012/18/EU of the European Parliament seeks to impose controls on potential sources of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substance.  This directive amends and repeals Council Directive 96/82/EC

** The update was sent in response to a query made to the Commission by a member of REA and the ADOWG. 

Article updated on 14/11/2014

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