REACH agreement does little to speed the phasing out of toxic chemicals

Press release - March 25, 2010
Brussels/Helsinki, International — Despite grand words from the European Commission today about speeding up the phase out of dangerous chemicals under the REACH legislation, it will still take 100 years for all hazardous chemicals to be phased out, Greenpeace warned.

Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said: "Today's announcement has widened the pool of potential chemicals to be phased out, but failed to speed up the process. REACH is supposed to ensure dangerous chemicals are phased out and replaced with safer alternatives. But nearly three years after it entered into force, the Commission has not made a decision on a single very hazardous chemical. It is scandalous that the Commission remains so sluggish while we are exposed to these toxics."

The announcement by environment commissioner Janez Potocnik and industry commissioner Antonio Tajani is limited to an agreement that over the next three years, 106 hazardous chemicals will be considered for possible phase out. But the commissioners have not announced how many of these would actually be phased out. They also failed to address the question of how to deal with the one thousand plus hazardous chemicals, including substances that can cause cancer and harm fertility, allowed in the EU today. At current speed it will take over 30 years before the EU considers all known hazardous chemicals for phase out and over 100 years for these to be replaced.

Since REACH (Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) entered into force in June 2007, the Commission's environment and industry departments have disagreed over the rules that the chemicals industry must follow when applying for authorizations to use hazardous chemicals. Because of these disagreements over the relevant guidelines for authorisation, not a single hazardous chemical has yet been put forward for phase out by the Commission.

Other contacts:

In Helsinki: Jorgo Riss – Greenpeace EU director:
+32 (0)496 122109 (mobile),
Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications manager:
+32 (0)2 274 1903, +32 (0)496 156229 (mobile),

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