EPA Announces Plan to Reduce TSCA Fees Burden for Stakeholders

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its plan to consider a proposed rule that would look at potential exemptions to the TSCA Fees Rule in response to stakeholder concerns about implementation challenges. By considering a proposal to narrow the broad scope of the current requirements, the agency could significantly reduce burden on potentially thousands of businesses across the country while maintaining the ability to successfully implement the Lautenberg Act amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to protect human health and the environment.

“Stakeholders are important partners in the work we do to ensure the safety of chemicals and seeking feedback from the public is a standard and valuable part of all our processes,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “After reviewing their input and concerns regarding the TSCA Fees Rule, we are taking action to continue evaluating potential risks from chemicals while ensuring our requirements are practical and realistic.”

The agency plans to initiate a new rulemaking process to consider proposing exemptions to the current rule’s self-identification requirements associated with EPA-initiated risk evaluations for manufacturers that:

  • Import the chemical substance in an article;
  • Produce the chemical substance as a byproduct; and
  • Produce or import the chemical substance as an impurity.

The agency may also consider proposing other changes to the rule during this process consistent with TSCA’s requirement to reevaluate the Fees Rule every three years.

EPA believes that considering exempting certain entities from self-identification requirements will not impede the ability to fully collect the necessary fees and will still allow the agency to achieve the ultimate objective of the TSCA Fees Rule and the statute – to defray a portion of EPA’s TSCA implementation costs. EPA intends to issue proposed amendments to the current fees rule later this year and with the goal of finalizing the amendments in 2021.

Additionally, in light of the extremely unusual circumstances of this situation and the undue hardship imposed on certain businesses who would be required to collect and report information under the TSCA Fees Rule, EPA issued a “no action assurance” for the three categories of manufacturers at this time. More specifically, EPA will exercise its enforcement discretion regarding the self-identification requirement for the three categories of manufacturers that the agency intends to propose an exemption from certain requirements in the TSCA Fee Rule.

For businesses that are erroneously on the preliminary lists of fee payers or fall into one of the three categories discussed above, see the agency’s FAQs for more information about how to certify as such to EPA and to avoid fee obligations. More information on this announcement, as well as a copy of the no-action assurance, can be found at https://www.epa.gov/tsca-fees/information-plan-reduce-tsca-fees-burden-and-no-action-assurance.

The Helsinki Chemicals Forum Conference of 4-5 June 2020 Postponed till 2021

HCF_logo_webThe Chemicals Forum Association and Messukeskus Helsinki have decided to postpone the 2020 Helsinki Chemicals Forum conference to next year. This decision was taken due to current COVID-19 pandemic, which forces all countries around the world – including Finland – to take emergency measures to avoid human contact which adversely affect international traveling and conferencing.

The full programme of and registration for the Helsinki Chemicals Forum conference of 4-5 June was published in February. However, over the past month the current health crisis moved from Asia to Europe and the rest of the world, so that the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic and called on all countries to adopt measures that would prevent or slow down viral transmission. All developed countries have in the meantime adopted such measures which are regularly made more stringent and covering a longer time span. There is at this stage no clarity when non-essential traveling for international conferences will again be accepted.

In this very exceptional and uncertain situation, the Chemicals Forum Association and Messukeskus Helsinki have decided to postpone Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2020 to next year, even if there is no obligation at this point in time to do so. Those that already registered will be individually contacted.

“The personal safety of all participants is of primary importance to us. We are sorry for our customers and we thank all our international partners for the work done up to this point for the Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2020 conference and on whom we count for next year conference” says Geert Dancet, Secretary General of Helsinki Chemicals Forum.

The available Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2020 programme will inspire the next conference and its programme will be published before the end of the year on the webpage www.helsinkicf.eu.

ECHA Committees Conclude on Five Restrictions

The Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) has adopted its opinion on the restriction proposal for siloxanes (D4, D5, D6) in personal care products while the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has adopted its opinion, among others, on skin sensitising substances used in textile and leather products.

Specifically, SEAC adopted its final opinion supporting ECHA’s proposal to restrict the placing on the market ofD4, D5 and D6 as substances, as contituents of other substances, or in mixtures in a concentration equal to or greater than 0.1 % weight by weight of each substance. This proposal covers both leave-on personal care products (D4, D5 and D6) and other consumer or professional products as well as wash-off personal care products (D6).

SEAC also agreed on its draft opinion on ECHA’s proposal to restrict the placing on the market, manufacture and use of five cobalt salts as substances on their own or in mixtures in a concentration equal or above 0.01 % by weight in industrial and professional applications. RAC adopted its opinion on this restriction proposal by written procedure in February 2020.

RAC adopted its opinion on France and Sweden’s proposal to restrict skin sensitising substances in finished textile, leather, hide and fur articles, placed on the market for the first time. Agreement on the SEAC draft opinion is postponed until June 2020.

RAC and SEAC supported Norway’s proposal to restrict the manufacture or placing on the market of PFHxS (linear or branched), its salts or related substances and as a constituent of another substance, in a mixture or in articles.

Furthermore, SEAC supported ECHA’s proposal to restrict the placing on the market of articles releasing formaldehyde at concentrations greater than 0.124 mg/m3 and that a formaldehyde concentration of 0.1 mg/m3 shall not be exceeded in the interiors of road vehicles and aircraft. RAC’s opinion supported the proposal but included several proposed modifications to its scope and conditions.

Consultations on the agreed SEAC opinions (cobalt salts, PFHxS and formaldehyde) will begin soon and the committee is expected to adopt its opinions at its June 2020 meeting.

The committees did not reach agreement on ECHA’s proposed restriction of intentionally-added microplastics and will continue discussions in June.

Applications for authorisation

RAC and SEAC adopted two opinions on applications for authorisation on one use of chromium trioxide and one use of octylphenol ethoxylates. In addition, RAC agreed on 16 draft opinions on applications for authorisation of uses of octyl- and nonylphenol ethoxylates; pitch, coal tar, high temperature; anthracene oil and chromium trioxide, reaching provisional agreement on 21 further uses, which will now go to written procedure.

SEAC agreed on 27 draft opinions on uses of octyl- and nonylphenol ethoxylates and pitch, coal tar, high temperature. Furthermore, RAC discussed key issues in 10 applications for authorisation, which were received by ECHA in November 2019.

More information about the opinions is available in an annex.