Monday, May 10, 2010

Companies Challenge ECHA Candidate Listings

As I've reported in the past, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been adding chemicals to "candidate lists" designating them as "substances of very high concern" (SVHC). Well now several companies are starting to push back on these listings.

The first instance was when lawyers challenged the listing of acrylamide. The substance was initially dropped from the published list, though it was added back on within short period. Now we see that several companies have gotten together to legally challenge the inclusion of four more substances to the lists, specifically, "pitch, coal tar, high temperature" (PCTHT); anthracene oil; "anthracene oil, anthracene low"; and "anthracene oil, anthracene paste." Actually the challenges were made back in February for the list issued in January, but only now have the challenges been made public. The companies feel the decision to list is faulty and based not only on errors in the hazard assessment but also on a misinterpretation of the law. In fact, they assert that there is no legal basis in REACH for the listing.

We'll see how the challenge comes out. But it is no surprise that companies are starting to push back against candidate listing. Once a chemical is designated a SVHC it then gets on a fast track for being pushed out of the market. Candidate list chemicals are eligible for the Authorization phase of REACH, which means they will be banned unless the manufacturer or importer of the chemical applies for authorization to continue using it. And if an authorization is granted, it will be time limited (likely less than 5 years) and also limited to specific uses that can be controlled. The company getting the authorization also is required to come up with a plan to replace the authorized chemical with a safer alternative, again on a very restrictive time frame.

This case is a reminder that while companies are focused on preparing their data packages for the first registration deadline on November 30, 2010, other parts of the REACH regulation are also moving forward on separate tracks. It is wise for companies to be aware of all of the facets of REACH, not just the registration dossier.

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