Germany's AGQM decries chemical registration program

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 14, 2009
Posted Nobember 10, 2009

The German biodiesel industry expressed its frustration with the EU's three-year-old chemical registration program, with Arbeitsgemeinschaft Qualitätsmanagement Biodiesel e.V. (AGQM) calling it "a disaster for the biodiesel industry." AGQM declared after a Nov. 3 hearing in the European Parliament that the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) responsible for the registration of chemicals under the European Chemicals Directive (REACH) is "utterly unable to handle the situation and is grossly understaffed."

REACH is an acronym for registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances, the European Community regulation on chemicals and their safe use that went into force in June 2007. REACH puts the responsibility on industry to manage risks and provide safety information. Chemical properties and safe handling information is to be registered in a central database rune by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. REACH provisions are to be phased in over 11 years from the start of the program.

AGQM organized a REACH consortium with over 50 member firms that has worked over the last 20 months to meet the deadlines for the proper registration of chemicals, and sharing costs, explained Dieter Bockey, spokesman for AGQM. "The REACH procedure turned out to be a cost-driving obligation for all companies and increasingly it is a substantial burden on small and medium-size firms," he said. With a 2010 deadline for registration coming, "this cost burden turns out to be another existential threat." The risk assessment studies cost anywhere from €1 million ($1.5 million) to €2.5 million, which given the relatively small size of the biodiesel industry compared to the chemical industry puts a greater burden on smaller industries.

AGQM is calling for a reduction in the fees being charged for REACH registration and an extension of the registration deadline to the end of 2013, pointing out that the available laboratory capacity for preparing the required studies such as toxicology analysis is limited. AGQM is also demanding the ECHA staff be increased to be able to handle the chemical registration workload, which is 20 times greater than initially expected.
 
 
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