Thursday, August 9, 2012

EU to Update Stockholm Convention POPs Chemical Plan

The European Commission (EC) has announced that it is reevaluating and updating the implementing plan for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The Stockholm Convention is a "global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically and accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife." A plan was originally drawn up in 2007 and "a significant number of the actions identified in the 2007 Plan have now been finalized or are about to be finalised." Hence the need for an update.

A consultation has been opened on the European Commission web site and interested parties have between August 2 to October 25, 2012 to provide comment.

The full consultation document is available as a PDF download here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ECHA to make more data on chemicals available

According to an ECHA news release:

"Beginning in November, ECHA will make more information from registration dossiers available on its website. This will implement a decision taken by ECHA in 2011 and is in line with Article 119(2)d of REACH. With these new elements, information made available will include the name of the registrant, the registration number of the substance as well as other items normally contained in a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Companies wishing to request confidentiality on these items need to update their dossiers and justify their requests for confidential treatment."

 More information can be found on the ECHA web site.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Senator Lautenberg Calls for Senate Vote on Safe Chemicals Act

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is calling for a vote in the full Senate on his Safe Chemicals Act. Originally introduced April 14, 2011, the bill was passed out of the Environment and Public Works Committee last week. The bill is "designed to protect Americans from dangerous toxic chemicals that are found in everyday consumer products." Lautenberg now wants the bill to get a vote in the Senate.

A 174-page Amendment that documents all of the changes to the original bill (S.847) was released by the Committee. The committee also issued a short summary highlighting the key changes. These changes comprehensively alter the bill from its original "NGO-friendly" form to its now very "Industry-friendly" form. Still, Lautenberg has not been able to get any Republican to join the 25 Democratic co-sponsors of the bill. Lautenberg called on his fellow Senators to put the bill to a vote,  "either for or against." He noted that "families deserve to know" what Senators from both sides of the aisle "are thinking as we go through this process."

After languishing for nearly one and half years after its introduction, the bill took on new emphasis following an investigative reporting series by the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune reported that there had been collusion between the chemical industry and the tobacco industry to overstate the effectiveness of flame retardants and understate the health risks. A rather contentious hearing was held the day before the Committee vote, during which Senator Boxer went so far as to suggest one of the witnesses should "take a course in ethics."

It is clear that Lautenberg does not expect the bill to pass a full Senate vote since it would need to reach 60 votes to invoke cloture just to bring it to the floor for a real vote. With only 53 Democrats and Independents possibly voting for the bill and all 47 Republicans likely voting against it no matter what changes are made in debate, the bill is essentially dead on arrival. But he does feel that after 7 years of introducing bills and making substantive changes that make the bill more industry-friendly, the public should know what each Senator believes about protecting human health and the environment.