Submissions to the 2012 Review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme - 3M Australia Pty Ltd

The Discussion Paper: Review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)–June 2012 was released on 1 June 2012. Submissions were received betweeen 1 June and 27 July 2012. The comments received from this consultation process will be used to inform the government of stakeholder views.

Page last updated: 27 August 2012

PDF printable version of 3M Australia Pty Ltd submission (PDF 81 KB)

3M Australia Pty Ltd
Dr Jennifer Turner
ANZ Corporate Regulatory Manager
02 9498 9287
Bldg A, 1 Rivett Rd,
North Ryde
NSW 2113

Summary

Please provide a short summary, up to half a page, outlining the key points of your submission:
3M Australia appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on an important review of Australia’s industrial chemical regulating body NICNAS. These dialogues are important to deliver best outcomes for both industry and the public.

The NICNAS Review discussion paper was disappointing and did not deliver a strategic policy framework. It is unclear what NICNAS’ role will be as risk management and risk assessment have not been delineated. Many of the options do not appear to be policy reform but operational tasks. As a result commenting on the options presented remains challenging. Many of the options lack detail making the benefit or impact difficult to quantify.

Part 4 – The regulatory framework for industrial chemicals (options A1 – A3)

  • Do you think that an industrial chemicals risk assessment and risk management manual would assist? If not, why not?
  • If so, what are the specific matters that could usefully be addressed in the manual?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the options?
Option A1: This option is a task. Without a clear understanding of the role or framework of NICNAS it is preemptive to have a manual.

Option A2: This option is outside the scope of the review stated in Part 1, Pg 6 which stated that broader chemical management was outside the scope of this review.

Option A3: The revision of MOUs and clarification regarding roles and responsibilities is a task regarding. Given NICNAS has been operating more than 20 years this should be a routine review process. This does not deliver strategic regulatory reform.

Part 5 – New industrial chemicals (options B1-B6)

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the options for addressing the problems and objectives identified?
  • If weaknesses are identified in relation to any of the options, are there other options that also meet the objectives?
  • If these options were to be adopted, what are some of the implementation issues that would require consideration?
  • What would be the likely impact on your organisation, if this approach were adopted?
  • If NICNAS were able to refuse both an assessment certificate (Option B4) or listing on AICS (Option B5), under what circumstances would this be appropriate?
Option B1: There would be benefit in scoping out this option in more detail. It would be advantageous to simplify the notification categories but this would need consideration of currently used exemptions, permits and notification categories, removing existing options may unnecessarily complicate the process. Further detail is required on this option but in principal it is supported.

A review of volume thresholds, data requirements and applicability criteria to increase harmonization with equivalent overseas industrial chemical regulatory bodies would be beneficial.

Option B2: There would be benefit in scoping out this option in more detail. The addition of new and expanded exemptions could be highly beneficial.

Option B3: The Productivity recommendation 4.5 intention was to introduce a statutory time frame for screening of new chemical notifications.

Option B4: Dot point 1 warrants further consideration and scoping. The drop and screen approach used by the US EPA would be highly advantageous and focus resources for both industry and the regulatory to higher concern chemicals. Dot points 2&3 - The points within this option are confusing and difficult to comment on without understanding what NICNAS’ role will be. However 3M does not support NICNAS acting in an interim risk management role. There are is generic legislated duty for managing OHS risk and environmental risks through relevant state and territory provisions; similarly consumer risk can be adequately managed by the ACCC.

Option B5: The points within this option are confusing and difficult to comment on without understanding what NICNAS’ role will be. Regardless all three dot points do not appear to be practical suggestions and would be disincentives to the introduction of new chemicals making a complex scheme even more complex.

Comment – There is a statement (end of Page 27 and top of 28 of 56 that NICNAS pre-market risk tolerance is lower because it lacks post-market abilities to control chemicals that potentially the time those products are bought to market could be reduced. An assessment of the number of PLC notifications issued before Day 90 would give an indication of the likelihood of this. To achieve this outcome the statutory time frame should be drastically reduced for PLCs (non-self assessed) and any other low hazard classes.

Part 6 – Existing industrial chemicals (options C1-C6)

  • Do these options address the problems identified in relation to existing chemicals? If not, why not?
  • What are the implementation implications?
  • If these options were (or were not) to be adopted, how would this impact on your organisation?
Options C1, C2, C3,C4: These options require further detail it is impossible to consider supporting these options or not without more information.

Option C5: This option is not practical and was discussed during the formation of the IMAP framework. The cost to obtain these data would be very high and again complicate the NCIANS scheme even further with another inventory list. The health, safety or environment outcome this option would deliver is unclear.

Part 7 – Post market monitoring and enforcement (Options D1-D3)

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the options?
  • Does an adverse effects reporting system address the problems and objectives identified?
  • What would be the impact of an adverse effects reporting system on introducers?
  • Are there other ways in which NICNAS’ post-market monitoring and enforcement capacity could be improved?
Option D1: Secondary Notification. When the level of understanding from all introducers with respect to their obligations with regard new and existing chemicals is then investing resource into secondary notification may be worthwhile. These proposals fail to recognise the complexity of the supply chain and that information in many cases is dependent on raw material suppliers. Communication of these conditions and achieving compliance in reality will be difficult.

Option D2: Regardless of what NICNAS’ role may be the establishment of a separate adverse experience reporting scheme under NICNAS is not supported by 3M Australia. There are already adequate existing adverse reporting schemes such as ACCC Mandatory Reporting, State WHS OHS incident reporting etc. Additionally as NICNAS is a chemical entity assessment agency for companies supplying formulated products containing multiple chemicals ascertaining adverse affects from specific chemical entities would be difficult.

Option D3: This warrants further consideration and scoping but more information is required.

Part 8 – Other reforms – release of information and confidential commercial information (Options E1-E2)

  • How would the release of information to other relevant government agencies impact introducers?
  • What are some of the implementation issues that would require consideration?
  • What would be the impact of these options?
  • Are there any other ways in which the identified problems can be addressed?
Options E1 and E2: The protection of CBI is critical. In some instances the uncertainty of a confidential AICS listing application at the end of the 5 year period is enough not to notify a new chemical in Australia. This issue requires further details so that the full impact can be ascertained.

Part 8 – Other reforms – use of foreign schemes / international assessments (Options F1-F2)

  • Do these options strike an appropriate balance between the use of international assessments/harmonisation and the need to ensure that Australia retains the capacity to undertake Australian relevant risk assessment and management where necessary?
  • If these options were to be adopted, what are the implications?
  • If these options were (or were not) adopted, how would this impact on your organisation?
Options F1 and F2: 3M Australia fully supports the use and acceptance of international assessments. Option F1 should not exclude certificate assessments. The alignment of data requirements would also be highly beneficial.

Part 8 – Other reforms – chemicals in articles (Options G1-G2)

  • Do these options address the problems relating to articles?
Options G1 and G2: Articles are out of NICNAS’ scope according the legislation. If this requires clarification for persons or NICNAS then it should be articulated.

Part 8 – Other reforms – chemicals in cosmetics (Option H1-H2)

  • If these options were (or were not) to be adopted, how would this impact on your organisation?
Option H1: 3M Australia supports the Productivity Commission recommendation (4.3) to limit the role of NICNAS to the scientific assessment of the hazards and risks of industrial chemicals.

Part 8 – Other reforms – Import and export of chemicals under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions (Option I1-I2)

  • What are the implications of maintaining the status quo?
Options I1 and I2: 3M Australia supports the Productivity Commission recommendation (4.3) to limit the role of NICNAS to the scientific assessment of the hazards and risks of industrial chemicals.

Part 8 – Other reforms – Governance – Committees (Option J1)

  • If the options in this Discussion Paper are preferred, what does this mean for the governance committees of NICNAS?
  • What committees are needed? For example, would it be useful to have a strategic advisory committee advising the Director of NICNAS?
Option J1: Firstly it is necessary to identify what the reform options may be in order to form appropriate advisory committee and determine what committees are needed.

A full list of all 2012 submissions can be vied at June 2012 submissions to the review of NICNAS.