Submissions to the 2012 Review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme - Haztech Environmental

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: 19 September 2012

PDF printable version of Haztech Environmental submission (PDF 191 KB)

Haztech Environmental
Jeff Simpson
03-9885-1269
0403-072-092
Jeff Simpson
18 Laurel St
ASHBURTON VIC 3147

Date: 23rd July 2012

Jeff Simpson, Haztech Environmental submission on the Review of NICNAS, on the reform of NICNAS, and on the questions raised in the Discussion Paper. See Appendix A for the Background (at the end of these comments) for more information.

Note 1: Many of the questions raised in the Discussion Paper are primarily based on tweaking the existing industrial chemicals system. My suggestions below recommends a cost-effective pragmatic system so that many of the options and questions in the Discussion Paper are NOT directly able to be answered.

Note 2: The comments below are in addition to my comments already submitted on the 12th of December 2011, which are available on the Dept of Health & Ageing website. I regard that all of my original 12th December 2011 submission comments are part of this submission. E.g. We have a Chemicals Inventory not a CAS No. Inventory; and that the Cosmetics (<1%) Exemption for formulated products should apply to locally manufactured products, with traceability reporting.

New Chemicals:

In Australia we need a more workable and effective approach to introducing new chemicals in Australia, with an appropriate level and cost of reviewing these chemicals by NICNAS, particularly where safer and more environmentally benign chemicals are then able to be used in Australia, replacing more hazardous chemicals already on the AICS.

The current NICNAS processes try to achieve the goal of safer, more sustainable chemicals but they are not working, due to the cost structure, particularly for small businesses, which is prohibitive, with just 5 years to create a market and recover the introduction costs. This means most small businesses just keep supplying, and industry and consumers keep using, the more hazardous chemicals already on NICNAS, as the “cheaper” option!

For such chemicals to be introduced we may need to reduce the cost recovery even further and maybe to nil for NICNAS charges (since there are still significant business costs to bring the information together for an application), where there is a clear benefit to Australia and other community costs are reduced (e.g. Health care costs and environmental clean-up costs).

Option B2/ I am clearly in agreement with extending the <1% concentration exemption for non-hazardous chemicals in products. I would ALSO suggest including being able to trace Hazardous Chemicals at <0.1% in products, where these will not classify the product as hazardous (at the concentration present) to the GHS categories (including aquatic environmental hazards).

Extend Option B2/ One way of achieving a significant cost effective approach of assessing ONLY hazardous chemicals or hazardous formulations of concern is to look closely at the pragmatic approach taken by New Zealand where:

a/ products and substances not classified with any GHS Chemical Hazards are allowed without controls, and

b/ where hazardous products that fit an agreed hazard profile can be allocated to agreed controls under NZ Group Standards (these controls are similar to controls advised in NICNAS Assessments) are allowed.top of page

Then c/, only IF a pure hazardous substance; or IF a formulation that does not fit an existing Group Standard is imported, is the substance or formulation then assessed by the NZ EPA, and the substance added onto their inventory of hazardous substances or a new Group Standard created.

This approach concentrates the NZ efforts onto just the hazardous chemicals (to the GHS criteria) needing to be allocated controls not already covered by the Group Standards.

For chemicals that are very hazardous, I support a similar approach of controls as are being implemented by REACH in Europe, but that these controls MUST be enacted at all levels of regulation across Australia, rather than the current system which allows States and Territories to implement or not.

BUT one extra requirement is needed for this NZ style system: I want Australia to track all chemicals that added to the Industrial Chemicals system, that are not hazardous; hazardous but brought in non-hazardous product, or the hazardous formulation fits a Group Standard, but the chemicals in the formulation are not on the Inventory.

This should occur by each company being required to add these chemicals to an on-line database, similar to what we currently do now for No Unreasonable Risk Chemicals imported at <100kg, plus internally in each company the customers of these chemicals are required to be tracked (and the records kept for at least 30 years).

Reason: IF new hazards become known in 10, 20 years or 30 years, this tracking (at minimum cost), then allows the Industrial Chemical Authority to initially approach the importer for information, and then approach customers who have used the chemical.

Option B5/ The 5 years allowed for exclusive use by the notifier, before being added to the AICS, is unrealistically short for most chemicals in order to justify the original costs and then recover them. I suggest changing this to seven or more years.

Existing Chemicals:

There also needs to more appropriate levels and cost effective ways to review of existing chemicals controlled by NICNAS. Australia is just not resourced to carry out an extensive Priority Existing Chemical review for every chemical issue which we may need to look at, within reasonable timeframes, to protect workers, the community and the environment.

Option C2/ The Inventory Multi-tiered and Prioritisation framework for what we look at needs to be clear and easy to make a decision with. We need the Industrial Chemical Authority to get on with the actual simplified reviews of the prioritised chemicals, to completed within an acceptable timeframe (say 1 year), whilst alerting users to the chemicals that are subject to a Priority Review.

Option C3/ Broaden the Mandatory Information-Gathering Powers: In this internet and database age the community and workers expect our Industrial Chemical Authority to have such an ability to gather information about down-stream uses of hazardous chemicals under review.

I support setting up tightly defined circumstances where manufacturers & importers would be required to provide such information. The community and workers expect this already.

Currently the request to provide such information is only responded to by the leading edge companies as good practice as it demonstrates their commitment to managing chemicals safely in Australia.

Option C5/ Remove Existing Chemicals from AICS that are no longer being introduced:

This option is totally unrealistic and demonstrates that NICNAS does not understand how chemicals are introduced and managed in Australia.

In particular, industry obtains statements for manufacturing companies from overseas which confirm that they have checked the AICS database on-line and that all the chemicals in their formulation are on the AICS.

So local industry have no way of knowing whether a particular chemical that might be considered for being withdrawn is actually in one of their confirmed ingredients in their products. The ability to get confirmation from overseas on such confidential ingredients would be very difficult.

New Option C7/ There is also a need for NICNAS to be allowed under the ICNA Act to help businesses (on a fee for service basis) to classify the chemical hazards of their industrial products.top of page

NICNAS is the only Authority in Australia that has expertise to help resolve industrial chemical hazard classification dilemmas. With GHS now in Australia and multitude of different classifications for some chemicals by different suppliers, this is important service we need to have available.

Option D1 Secondary Notification:

D1/ Due to confidentiality issues, finding out whether Secondary Notification of a chemical is needed is currently difficult to achieve, as the 2nd manufacturer or importer have no idea of the scope of the original requirements, since there is no link.

IF we are to keep this requirement, we need to be adequately clear about the original circumstances, and what sort of change of quantity or different handling/use invokes a Secondary Notification.

D2/ An APVMA style adverse effects reporting program for industrial chemical ingredients is not appropriate approach and is likely to add significant cost for limited benefit.

I suggest a similar system that occurs for Scheduled Poisons would be more appropriate for Industrial Chemicals, and that adverse effects be reported through the Worksafe Authority and Environmental Authority in each State/ territory and who are then required to pass these reports onto the Federal levels of such Authorities and NICNAS.

Use of Foreign Schemes/ International Assessments:

Options F1/ & F2/ Our industrial chemicals authority needs to be pragmatic and allow most of these assessments to be automatically use, where the level of risk is appropriately managed. Then only assessments where there is concern will NICNAS or Industry be required to do an additional review.

Chemicals in Articles:

Option G2/ IF chemicals are designed to be released by articles (and a reasonable assessment of poor quality manufactured articles that release chemicals due to their poor quality of manufacture, IS that they are clearly “designed” to release chemicals) they are covered by the INCA Act.

NICNAS should already be taking charge of such poor quality articles (rather than they are somehow under ACCC control) so that importers would them need to be registered and know what chemicals these poor quality products are releasing.

This would have an immediate impact, because importers would no longer interested to import such poor quality products that released chemicals and most would be eliminated from the market.

An example of a poor quality article are foam pillows, where there is still unreacted monomer in the foam that releases over time, once the plastic bag is removed, then a person sleeps on the pillow and breathes in the monomer with significant health effects likely to occur.

FINISH Comment

Appendix A: BACKGROUND—Review of NICNAS Discussion Paper

(from Hazmat & Environment Notes April-June 2012)
The Department of Health and Ageing Review and Department of Finance and Deregulation are investigating how the regulatory settings may be improved to enhance both the competitiveness of the Australian chemical industry and public health and environmental outcomes.

The Review includes, but is not be limited to:
  • the role and functions of NICNAS as set out in the Act and the extent to which they adequately reflect stakeholder expectations and international best practice, having regard to the broader context of chemicals regulation in Australia;
  • the governance and consultation arrangements of NICNAS and the extent to which they support the effective delivery of NICNAS’ functions;
  • the efficiency and effectiveness of NICNAS’ operating arrangements and business processes, with particular regard to the protection of human and environmental health, the management of risk, and compliance costs for business; and
  • any implications for the resourcing of functions currently cost recovered, should the review recommend changed responsibilities.
Both pdf and html versions of the Discussion Paper are available from the Dept of Health & Ageing website below.

Written submissions are sought on the impacts and implications of proposed reform options, and more specifically in relation to the questions raised in the Discussion Paper. Brief case studies and/or supporting data that illustrate/clarify key issues in relation to each of the proposed reforms would, in particular, assist the review.

In Nov-Dec 2011, 21 submissions were made (including my Haztech Environmental Submission) when we were invited to help prepare this Review Discussion Paper.

They 21 submissions may be viewed and downloaded from the Department of Health and Ageing's website. These Nov-Dec 2011 submissions will help you gain an understanding of what sort of changes were being sort by Industry, Community, Associations & Individuals.top of page

Submissions to: NICNAS by Friday 27th July, plus a completed Stakeholder Submission Form.

Stakeholder Workshops to Discuss the Paper have occurred in June and July
From:NICNAS Chemical Gazette June 2012
and:Department of Health and ageing's website

Jeff Simpson’s General Comment: It is important that Industry and Community comments are very clear about the type of change we see as needed, as general comments make it harder for Dept of Health and Ageing Authority staff to understand exactly what we want to see changed. Please remember they do not work in industry, nor represent associations concerned about chemicals, so do not have actual experience of working with chemicals & NICNAS.

Jeff Simpson’s New Chemicals Comment: It is important that ALL businesses importing and using chemical products make input on this Review of NICNAS Discussion Paper, so that we get a more workable and effective approach to introducing new chemicals in Australia, with an appropriate level and cost of reviewing these chemicals by NICNAS, particularly where safer and more environmentally benign chemicals are then able to be used in Australia, replacing more hazardous chemicals already on the AICS.

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