In recent years, several incidents have occurred in the Netherlands involving companies which handle, process and/or store hazardous materials as part of their core business activities. There are approx. 400 to 500 such companies in the Netherlands. They are subject to the specific requirements set out in the Seveso directive 2012/18/EU, Dutch implementation in the Major Accidents (Risks) Decree (Besluit risico's zware ongevallen, BRZO).
Incidents at these companies generally attract considerable media coverage and prompt parliamentary debate because they can have a major impact on the environment, human health and the national economy. Despite the possibility of serious consequences, the immediate social setting in which these companies operate is unable to influence their activities to any significant degree. Moreover, ongoing shortcomings have been noted even where companies have been subject to prior inspection.