Friday, June 4, 2010

SOCMA Comments on House Toxic Chemicals Safety Act Discussion Draft

As I noted yesterday, not everyone is happy with the way things are panning out on the House "discussion draft" version of the Toxic Substances Safety Act, aka, TSCA reform. House members have been having stakeholders meetings since it's unveiling in April, and a formal bill is expected to be introduced this summer. One stakeholder group, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) is worried that “the potential universe of chemical substances, and the burdens of the new law, would skyrocket.” Specifically, they note:

1) The "sheer scope and the lack of definition" of the bill will be unworkable. Because EPA would receive "300 minimum data sets" within 18 months after it finalizes the priority list, and they would be required to act on them within 6 months, SOCMA fears that there would not be time for peer review and thus the safety determinations would be rushed and not in sufficient depth for decision-making.

2) The draft doesn't seem to authorize collection of data from downstream users, which means all the use and exposure data would still come from manufacturers, who don't always know how their chemicals are used by others.

3) The definition of "adverse effect" is so broad that it could include effects that intended, e.g., pharmaceutical uses. They are also concerned about what is meant by "cumulative exposure" as this seems to be unworkable in a practical sense.

4) The minimum data set is a concern, especially since SOCMA represents many small batch manufacturers. I discussed options for making this more workable in yesterday's post.

5) The discussion draft drops certain exemptions that were present in TSCA. For example, an "articles" exclusion is gone, which would mean that articles would be included in the requirements for data. Most outside parties feel this is a major road block to a workable law. The low volume exclusion is also gone, which means even the smallest production volumes would be required to present some base set of data.

SOCMA has several other concerns as well, including the proposed prioritization scheme, reporting, preemption, fees, and information disclosure, the latter of which is one of SOCMA's highest priorities. They are concerned that their membership, who as small companies are the innovators of the chemical industry, would be exposed to "corporate espionage" should the strict confidential business information protections be loosened.

There's more, and we'll see some of it come out as the discussion process moves forward. And of course once the House introduces the formal bill there will continue to be discussions over the details.

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