Chlor-Alkali BREF

Final chlor-alkali BREF update and consequences - Definitive document available online

2014 BREFThe final version of the revised BREF for the production of chlor-alkali, as required by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), is available on the E.U. website. Check and download it here:
Direct link:

Compared to the version posted on this website in July 2014, only the cover pages were modified (i.e. pages 1-5 and 342-344).

Some important comments

The BAT conclusions (chapter 5 of the CAK BREF document) have been published earlier in the Official Journal of the EU.

Consequences of the published BAT conclusions

Under the IED, the BAT (best available techniques) conclusions have become legally bindingwhile the other chapters of the BREF are considered as guidance or recommendations.

The fact that the BAT conclusions have been published now triggers the competent authorities, i.e. the national authorities who may mandate local permitting authorities, to ‘reconsider permit conditions’ and ‘they shall take into account the BAT conclusions and shall ensure that the installation complies with the permit conditionswithin4 years after publication of the BAT conclusions in the OJ’, this means before 11 December 2017 (IED, Art. 21).

In terms of production techniques,only monopolar/bipolar membrane and asbestos-free diaphragm techniques are BAT. This means other techniques cannot be used under the renewed permits (which enter into force 4 years from now at the latest), according to the published BAT conclusions. In principle there is a reference to an exemption of the deadline (see next section), but in practice exemptions are expected to be kept extremely limited and will be difficult to justify

Mercury technology

The published BAT conclusions under the IED imply that the mercury cell technology can no longer be used in chlor-alkali units beyond 11 December 2017.


There is very limited scope in the IED to obtain exemptions concerning the time for compliance, the only mentioning is in preamble 22 (see below). This preamble mentions ‘criteria’ for exemptions but these have never been identified. Therefore, in first instance it will be up to the local/national permitting authorities to assess and agree with the need for exemptions, i.e. to extend the use of non-BAT beyond 11 December 2017 for a fixed time period. Subsequently the exemption will have to be justified by the competent authorities to the EU Commission.

(Preamble 22) In specific cases where permit reconsideration and updating identifies that a longer period than 4 years after the publication of a decision on BAT conclusions might be needed to introduce new best available techniques, competent authorities may set a longer time period in permit conditions where this is justified on the basis of the criteria laid down in this Directive. 

Euro Chlor Secretariat and Member companies contributed to much of the specific technical information through the entire process, supporting the work of the Technical Working Group (TWG). 


 Dolf van Wijk, tel. +32-2-676 73 73