09 July 2003 18:14 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--US specialty chemical producers urged the European Commission (EC) Wednesday to base the planned registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) program on risk rather than volume, warning that Reach otherwise will cripple small chemicals firms in the US and European Union (EU).
The Washington, DC-based Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (Socma) said today that its formal comments to the EU on the Reach program tomorrow will raise objections to several crucial elements of the proposal but also will offer specific suggestions on alternate routes for the testing regime.
Jim Cooper, manager for government relations at Socma, said his trade group's principal concern with the Reach proposal is that the proposed "up-front testing program is simply volume driven rather than risk-based."
"Volume is not a great indicator for potential exposures," Cooper said. He said that in Socma's formal comments to be delivered tomorrow, the trade group will suggest that use categories should be considered rather than simple volume of production, and that use categories should also be used to define testing requirements. "It would not be that big of a change from what Reach is proposing now," Cooper said.
He said Socma is recommending a smaller, initial data set for the Reach testing program. "We are suggesting that they [EC] scale back the amount of information to be submitted initially to only that necessary to prioritise the testing work that needs to be done, to guide targeted development of exposure scenarios and the appropriate chemical testing."
If the Reach program is implemented as drafted, Cooper warned, "the negative impact on innovation and international competition will be significant and disproportionate for specialty chemicals manufacturers, many of which are smaller firms, in both the US and the EU."
Cooper also said that the Reach proposal to test some 30 000 chemicals "is too big a universe" that will quickly become unmanageable for governments as well as the industry. That testing universe could be reduced in part, he suggested, by eliminating small-volume chemicals that have a low probability of human exposure.
Despite what Socma sees as flaws, Reach could be made workable, Cooper said. He said SOCMA supports the concept of a program that would provide consistent regulation of chemicals throughout Europe. "We think Reach can be made workable," he said.
The some 300 member firms of Socma have more than 2000 manufacturing sites, including many in Europe, and 100 000 employees.
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