The South Korean Ministry of the Environment has – unexpectedly – put forward significant amendments to the Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (known as K-REACH) for public consultation.
They relate to:
- the registration of existing chemicals, used in quantities of over one tonne/year;
- the introduction of pre-registration;
- abolishing the existing K-REACH annual reporting scheme;
- stricter authorisation for uses of designated chemicals;
- increased information provision through the supply chain and to consumers;
- penalties for false test results; and
- penalties for damage to human health and the environment from using chemicals that should have been registered.
Under the proposals, all existing chemicals used in volumes of one tonne/year or above will have to be registered. To facilitate this, there is to be a grace period for registration. Companies qualify for this if they “pre-register” their use. A ministry official told Chemical Watch, pre-registration should start at the end of 2018.
Although this change replaces the registration of priority existing chemicals, the June 2018 deadline for the registration of a select number of Pecs remains in force.
Additionally the annual reporting requirement under K-REACH is to be abolished as an unnecessary duplication of that required under the Chemicals Control Act.
For chemicals subject to authorisation, the changes seek to tighten use. Other than for specified exemptions, importing or other uses of certain substances is to be banned, unless an authorisation is granted.
The requirements on information provision are extended. This must be supplied down the supply chain to users of hazardous substances and the mixtures containing them.
More information to consumers is also specified. Two classifications of chemical will require notification on products. These are for substances deemed:
- carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction; and
- persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.
Finally, new penalties are put forward. The first is for labs which produce false hazard data, whether intentionally or not. The second is for manufacturers or importers of chemicals without adequate registration, which face penalties proportional to revenue where damage to human health or the environment is shown.
According to one observer, while some of the amendments aim to ease the burden of registration, if the draft is approved, it will have a big impact on industry.