Monday, March 10, 2008

EU law - REACH chemical industry pigs


After marathon talks, the EU's three lawmaking bodies - Parliament, Council and Commission - came to a compromise agreement on the draft REACH regulation on 30 November 2006.

The proposal, called REACH - Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals - will ensure that importers and producers of chemicals provide at least basic health and safety testing for their products. It will replace some 40 legislative texts with a single regulation.

A compromise deal on the proposed REACH regulation was adopted by Parliament on 13 December with 529 votes in favour, 98 against and 24 abstentions.

The package will now be forwarded to the EU Council of Ministers for final approval on 18 December 2006 in what will be a formal rubber-stamping exercise.

The new rules, which will come into effect from June 2007, will require importers and manufacturers of chemicals to provide health and safety data for some 30,000 substances currently used in everyday products. These range from plastics used in computers and mobile phones to substances used in textiles, paints, furniture, toys and cleaning products.

All must be registered over an 11-year period within a new chemicals agency to be set up in Helsinki. The registration process will begin with the most toxic chemicals as well as those marketed in higher volumes.

Details of the compromise were unveiled on 1 December by Guido Sacconi, the Parliament's chief negotiator on REACH. Central to the agreement is the replacement of the most toxic substances with safer alternatives (EurActiv 4/12/06)

If one exists at reasonable cost, dangerous substances will have to be replaced. If not, companies will need to produce either a substitution plan or an R&D plan to replace them at a later stage.

Despite warnings by environmental groups that the bill has been severely watered down after industry lobbying, MEPs managed to keep the fundamental part of the text intact - the reversal of the burden of proof from authorities to businesses.

"Instead of national authorities having to justify concern about particular chemicals, the responsibility for proving that their products are safe will now rest with the manufacturers," said Chris Davies, environment spokesperson for the liberal democrats (ALDE).


The European Chemicals Industry Council (CEFIC) acknowledged the efforts made by EU institutions to arrive at a compromise acceptable to all stakeholders - industry, downstream chemical users and environmentalists.

"The challenge during the legislative period has been to ensure the workability of the legislation, so that it can deliver real improvements," said CEFIC Director-General Alain Perroy. However, he regretted the "unnecessary requirements added to the authorisation element of REACH" relating to the substitution of dangerous substances.

"It will clearly add to costs," said Perroy who denounced the "illusion" that substitution could be governed by a "command and control approach". The end result will be "legal uncertainty" for business and, consequently, reduced investments and innovation, Perroy warned.

CEFIC said that efforts should now focus on implementing the new rules. Perroy called on EU institutions "to continue developing the technical guidance and instruments needed to secure the successful implementation of REACH. In this context, it will be of paramount importance to establish an efficient and cost-effective agency".

Small-business organisations said that they appreciated efforts made to ease the bureaucratic burden for SMEs by cutting down on safety assessments for substances produced in smaller quantities. But overall, small business organisation UEAPME said the result is "quite disappointing."

"The issues of data sharing and data liberalisation have been sidelined during the debate, and legal certainty on cost sharing is left to future guidelines. More could have been done," said Guido Lena, environmental policy director at UEAPME.

The European trade union confederation (ETUC) said that it welcomed progress made on the management of chemical risks, but condemned "the chemical industry's seven-year lobbying campaign to get the European institutions to scale down the reform".

In particular, ETUC said that information vital to protecting workers' health in chemical safety reports "will now only be required for a third of the chemicals originally planned."

ETUC however welcomed that the burden of proof is now firmly placed on producers to prove that their products are safe. "That marks clear progress, because industry will now have to provide information on the safety of their chemicals before they can put them on the market," said Joel Decaillon of ETUC.

Environmental organisations were doubtful about the compromise. On the positive side, Greenpeace and the WWF welcomed:

The fact that companies will now be responsible to prove the safety of chemicals produced or imported in large volumes (above 10 tonnes a year);
that there is a mechanism to replace persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals if safer alternatives exist, and;
that the public is allowed to request information about the presence of chemicals in products.

But on the negative side, they pointed to "major loopholes". These include:
Less stringent safety requirements for carcinogens and chemicals which can cause birth defects and reproductive illnesses;
substances imported in low volumes (below ten tonnes per year) for which "no meaningful safety data" will be required, and;
provisions relative to 'high-concern' chemicals that will still be allowed onto the market if producers can prove that they can be "adequately controlled" when a "safe threshold" can be defined where their detection is considered as posing no threat to human health.

"The approach of adequate control - and safe thresholds - is premised on a risky gamble, given the unknown effects of chemicals in combination, on vulnerable hormone functions, and on the development of children from the earliest stages of life," the organisations said. Ultimately, they say a lot will depend on the new chemicals agency to be set up in Helsinki, Finland. "The new EU Chemicals Agency in Helsinki will have to be closely monitored to ensure that REACH can deliver," WWF said. "Without the necessary support, hazardous chemicals will continue to contaminate wildlife, our homes and our bodies, and REACH will prove a failure."

Next steps:

18 December 2006: Council to formally rubber-stamp the agreement ('A' point to be adopted without debate).
June 2007: REACH regulation comes into force.
June 2008: European Chemicals Agency becomes operational, pre-registration phase starts.
June 2018: Registration phase closes with substances produced in smaller quantities (1-10 tonnes).

Q&A: Reach chemicals legislation

Thousands of chemicals in common use have not been health tested

A new European law known as Reach has been described as the most important EU legislation for 20 years.

Reach stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals.

It puts the onus on business to show that the chemicals it uses are safe. It is also meant to encourage the replacement of hazardous chemicals with safer ones and to spur the chemicals sector into researching and developing more new products.

What does Reach aim to do?

The legislation addresses several specific issues:

Now: Industry currently uses thousands of chemicals, in products ranging from shampoo to cars, that have not been tested for their effect on human health and the environment. It is left to public health authorities to test those that they think may be hazardous - but only 140 chemicals have been selected for risk assessment since 1993, and even fewer have completed the process.

Reach says: Any chemical produced or imported in significant quantities has to be tested unless sufficient safety information already exists. The cost should be born by the producer or the importer.


Now: While some hazardous chemicals, such as DDT and PCBs, are banned by the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) others are still widely used, despite evidence that they may cause cancer, or damage the body's hormone system.

Reach says: Business will be able to use "substances of very high concern" only if they have authorisation from a new European Chemicals Agency. Authorisation will be granted under specific conditions, and will have to be regularly renewed, encouraging companies to seek safer alternatives.


Now: Existing rules oblige companies to test new chemicals - even if they only produce 10kg - but the 100,000 "old" chemicals that were on the market before 1981 are exempt. So it is easier and cheaper to stick with the old, untested chemicals than to develop new ones. Only 3,000 chemicals have been introduced since 1981.

Reach says: Many of the old chemicals would have to be tested, too; so innovation would become more worthwhile. Chemicals produced or imported in quantities under one metric tonne would be exempt, while those used for research would not have to be registered for five or 10 years. Registration would also be cheaper and quicker than in the past.

Why is this controversial?


1,000 pages of text

30,000 chemicals to be registered over 11 years

At least one million more animal tests

Billions of euros saved in healthcare costs

The legislation aims to protect human health and the environment, but it could end up damaging the European economy. Efforts to find the right balance have been going on for several years. One side has talked about increases in cancer, mutation and disruption to our hormone system, while the other side has focused on spiralling red tape, rising costs and job losses as businesses move away from Europe.

The EU's chemical industry produces 31% of the world's chemicals and employs 1.7 million people. Millions of others work in industries such as car production or textiles, which are big users of chemicals.

But while industry has sought to water down Reach, European trade unions have joined environmentalists in arguing for strong legislation. They say that one in three occupational diseases in the 15 older EU member states is due to exposure to chemicals.

How much might Reach cost?

The European Commission has estimated that Reach will cost industry between 2.8bn and 5.2bn euros (between £1.5bn and £3.5bn) over 11 years. Other estimates put the figure as high as 12.8bn euros (£8.6bn).

However, the Commission also calculates that Reach would save Europe 54bn euros (£36bn) over 30 years because fewer people would fall ill as a result of exposure to chemicals. University College London has come up with an even higher figure - 284bn euros (£191bn) over 30 years - by including losses in production.

A full cost benefit analysis would also involve putting a price on human and animal health. As the wildlife pressure group WWF puts it: "What is the price of an uncontaminated polar bear?"

Would Reach mean more animal testing?

Animal testing is very expensive for safety assessments - I will do everything I can to change Reach

Guenter Verheugen

Yes, but it is not clear how much more. All proposals for animal testing will be evaluated, and the authorities will attempt to ensure there is no duplication. Companies will usually be obliged to share animal-testing data.

However, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Guenter Verheugen, said on 7 November 2005 that "in the worst-case scenario" 3.9 million more animals could be used for testing, which he said was not "ethically defensible". He added that the Commission had ideas that would enable it to reduce this extra testing by 70%.

MEPs called for measures to promote alternative methods of testing.

How many chemicals will have to be registered?

About 30,000 in total, over 11 years. The European Commission proposes a timetable for registration in phases, whereby the most hazardous chemicals and those used in the largest volumes would be registered first.

What are "substances of very high concern"?

As defined by Reach, these are chemicals that:

Cause cancer, or mutation or interfere with the body's reproductive function (CMRs)
Take a long time to break down, accumulate in the body and are toxic (PBTs)
Take a very long time to break down and accumulate in the body (vPvBs)
Have serious and irreversible effects on humans and the environment, for example substances that disturb the body's hormone system


CMRs: Carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction

PBTs: Persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic

vPvBs: Very persistent, very bio-accumulative

The Commission says about 1,500 substances may fall into these categories.

Authorisation to use them could be withdrawn at any time in the light of new research.

Would any chemicals be banned?

Under Reach, the European Commission would have the power to ban the use of a chemical in certain products, or to ban it completely.

Are there any loopholes?

Reach only applies to chemicals manufactured in or imported into the EU. It does not apply to the use of chemicals in finished products. So a product like a television, or computer or shampoo made outside the EU could contain chemicals that are not registered under Reach - providing they are not banned under specific safety regulations (such as lead).

What chemicals are not covered by Reach?

Polymers, a group of chemicals that includes plastics, will be exempted for now. However, monomers - the basic building block of an individual polymer do have to be registered and evaluated.

The Commission says the exemption for polymers would be lifted if a practicable and cost-effective way of identifying dangerous ones is developed.

I think the european parliament is one of our better chances at getting 911 truth into the mainstream

I find it hilarious to hear a member of the European Branch of the NWO

Peter, have you got anything to back up this diffamatory statement?

telling us that it's the US who controls the media .. NO it's not, it's the people who created the Micky Mouse parliament that he has a seat in.

The USA industry since the 1930s has spent millions to control thought. Since WW2 the CIA had active mind control programmes. In Europe this would create a revolution, but in the USA it is normal. The EU parliament in Strasburg has teeth, it is not Mickey Mouse at all.

That would be The Club of Rome, The Bilderbergers, the Trilaterals, the CFR and all the other Rothschild agents .

Could it not be that the industry bosses, bankers, CIA are actually co-operating without being controlled by rothschild? Guess who runs most banks in Europe? Yes, the people are the owners in many cases.

Those guys don't give a damn about countries, they want to abolish the concept of the National State and replace it with their so-called "International Community " .

Which would be a way to have peace on earth, its logical!. How can anyone be against it after we have seen it work so well in Europe. The European Parliament is VERY much on the side of the citizens. Look at the RECORD of the laws they passed.
Of course we don't read about it unless it is a mega-fine for Microsoft. But please, everyone in yankistan, please check it out. This parliament is fairly elected, unlike yours.

Maybe you cannot be convinced. I know for a fact that the CIA planted the PATRIOT NWO meme in order to steer the gullible. And it has been planted deep and durable.
IMHO exactly to counter any internationalist PUBLIC FORCE to attempt to regulate the elite-crimes of the USA.

Here is a really good example of what a properly elected parliament can achieve:
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posted by u2r2h at 9:26 PM


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