Submissions to the 2012 Review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme–Wacker Chemie AG

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: 10 October 2012

PDF printable version of Wacker Chemie AG submission (PDF 154 KB

Wacker Chemie AG submission on the Review of NICNAS, 27 July 2012

From: Volker Rumpf
Wacker Chemie AG
Johannes-Hess-Str. 24
84489 Burghausen

Ph: +49 8677 83 5586
Fax: +49 8677 886 9722

Wacker Chemie AG submission on the Review of NICNAS, 27 July 2012, on the reform of NICNAS, and on the questions raised in the Discussion Paper.

Note 1: Many of the questions raised in the Discussion Paper are primarily based on making changes to the existing system for assessment of industrial chemicals. The suggestions below recommend a cost-effective pragmatic system so that many of the options and questions in the Discussion Paper are not directly answered or looked at.

Note 2: This submission is based on the submission circulated to industry on 23 July 2012 by Jeff Simpson, Haztech Environmental and adjusted as appropriate.

New Chemicals:

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

The cost structure of the current NICNAS processes keep industry relatively often from introducing a new product (substance) into Australia, even if the chemical substance is toxicologically and ecotoxicologically well understood and fully examined and instead will continue to provide “inferior” chemistry, that is already listed on AICS. Business always will (have to) recover the cost of a market introduction, or not do it.

In order to achieve the goal of safer, more sustainable chemicals, NICNAS would need to concentrate on the review of hazardous chemicals and reduce cost and administrative burden for the introduction of non-hazardous chemicals.

Top of pageA number of measures altogether or even individually would help to make the system more workable for both industry and NICNAS and would allow more innovative (mostly less hazardous) chemistry on the Australian market.
  • Allow larger volumes between 500 kg and 1 ton of a new substance to be introduced annually into Australia, without further control. This would allow chemical companies to test the market for new chemicals or products and make it easier to justify cost for a notification, if still required. Classification of the substances and providing information on safe handling of these products to customers is good practice and will remain unchanged, even without any type of permit or notification.
  • Introduce a <1% concentration exemption for non-hazardous chemicals in products and an exemption for hazardous chemicals below their classification threshold, which is in general at < 0.1%, for some substances might be lower.
  • Accept the non-hazardous nature of polymers beyond a certain molecular weight in general and allow introduction of those without notification, either based on monomers listed on AICS (which does not necessarily mean these are well researched), or based on a positive list (which is tedious to maintain and keep up to date) or last not least by just restricting the number of functional groups of high concern (like the current system) and not look at all others.
  • Only assess hazardous chemicals (classified according to the GHS criteria) and ignore all others products and substances to be introduced onto the market, thus focussing on new and existing hazardous chemicals and their management.
  • Make sure a chemicals management system is valid all across Australia and does not allow States and Territories to deviate from that (similar to the EU approach to harmonization).
  • Introduce a requirement for a system of retroactive (possibly up to two years) information of customers about changes in product classification (actually any significant change in product safety information) by means of amended safety data sheets, as is the requirement in Europe.
  • For notification of (hazardous) chemicals, 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 notification costs and then recover them. Wacker Chemie AG suggests changing this to seven or more years.
  • Enable NICNAS to accept the assessment results from recognised countries with an effective chemicals management system in place. This will reduce the cost to industry and NICNAS and will enable NICNAS to focus its attention on those chemicals that have not already been assessed by other countries.

Secondary Notification:

If all of the above is implemented, the tedious task (due to confidentiality issues) of finding out whether a Secondary Notification of a chemical is needed will reduce to a minimum if not completely disappear. Currently this is 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 Australia is to keep this requirement, it needs to be adequately clear about the original circumstances, and what sort of change of quantity or different handling/use invokes a Secondary Notification.

Existing Chemicals:

Australian industrial chemicals authority needs to be pragmatic and allow most of the international assessments under foreign schemes to be automatically used, where the level of risk is appropriately managed. Then only where there is concern, will NICNAS or Industry be required to do an additional review.

In line with above suggestions, make the AICS an inventory of hazardous chemical substances and restrict any tracking and reporting to those. If new information suggests a chemical requires a hazard classification, which was previously introduced without controls (because it was then deemed non-hazardous), then all necessary action needs to be taken by industry to comply with the requirements for hazardous chemicals.

The Inventory Multi-tiered and Prioritisation framework is a good start for this, but will need to be clear and easy to make a decision with. The Industrial Chemical Authority needs to get on with the actual simplified reviews of the prioritised chemicals, to complete these within an acceptable timeframe (e.g. 1 year), whilst alerting users to the chemicals that are subject to a Priority Review.

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