Synthesis Report: Special Session on Facilities handling Hazardous Substances with Ownership Change
The OECD Working Group on Chemical Accidents (WGCA) organised a special session on “Facilities Handling Hazardous Substances with Ownership Change” in Paris on 23 October 2014. This event took place in the context of the 24th annual meeting of the WGCA. The special session aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the potential safety implications of a change of ownership (e.g. divestments, mergers and acquisitions) in facilities handling hazardous substances. The special session was organised by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection.
The goal of the special session was to illustrate the extent to which ownership change is a
potential risk factor for the occurrence of accidents in facilities handling hazardous substance, with
examples of accidents in which ownership change might have been a direct or indirect cause. It looked at issues such as how ownership change is being considered in current chemical accidents prevention programmes and what further policy might be needed to improve prevention in the case of ownership change. It aimed at untangling the role of different stakeholders (e.g. acquiring company, selling company, public authorities, etc.) in managing possible risks when a hazardous handling facility is going through a
change of ownership.
The special session was organised around expert talks and discussions on issues such as: the
landscape of ownership change in the chemical industry, the perception of ownership change as a factor of risk, the procedures and requirements prior to and following a change of ownership, and the role of inspections. The special session also examined in detail the due diligence process in the case of a change of ownership in a facility handling hazardous substances.
This report summarises the main conclusions from the special session. It does not necessarily represent the views of the OECD or a consensus among participants. The special session agenda can be found in the Annex to this report. Affiliations of participants are as of October 2014.
This special session is one element of a larger project that was initiated by the OECD WGCA in
2012 on “Hazardous Substance Handling Facilities with Ownership Change”. This project aims to investigate the effects of a change of ownership on process safety and on the risk of a chemical accident. More generally, this project aims to increase awareness by public authorities, industry and other stakeholders on the safety implications of a change of ownership in hazardous facilities. This project is led by Norway and supported by a steering group of experts from Australia, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China, UNECE and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC). The project comprises a number of activities, in particular a literature review and a survey directed at public authorities, industry, industry associations and trade unions to provide specific information with regard to the management of safety risks when a facility handling hazardous substances is going through a change of ownership.