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Chemicals Management Bill to clean up enforcement

The Chemicals Management Bill will provide for co-ordinated enforcement, across health, safety, environment, water, and development authorities, by 2017.

At a recent land remediation summit in Pretoria, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) explained the need for the Chemicals Management Bill, saying that 25 separate pieces of legislation provide for elements of chemicals health, safety, environment and other aspects.

No existing regulatory framework that allows for the banning of industrial chemicals or hazardous substances. The Hazardous Substances Act does not ban chemicals. NEMA can be used to ban products that has a detrimental effect to the environment and human health.

No existing regulatory framework allows for the registration of industrial chemicals. The country therefore has little or no knowledge of chemicals used for industrial purposes and these chemicals are therefore not controlled.

Industrial chemicals can be introduced in the country and industries are not required by any law to report on the risk assessments and the use of these chemicals.

The list of hazardous substances declared as Group II substances was published in Government Notice R 1382 many years ago, in terms of the Hazardous Substances Act, however no licensing requirements have been put in place for Group II hazardous substances.

Chemical risk assessments is currently mainly done for human safety, addressing mammalian and clinical toxicology and ecotoxicology. Chemicals evaluated include agro-chemicals, therapeutic goods (drugs and human medicines by DOH, disinfectants by NRCS and SABS), and food additives by DOH.

The USA is currently also drafting a chemicals management bill.

Chemicals Management Bill timeline

2015 -2016 Draft Chemicals Management Bill developed
Q1 Consultation on Chemicals Management Bill discussion paper (see contact details below)
Q2 -Q3 1st Draft Chemicals Management Bill
Q2-Q3 Socio-economic impact assessment report
Q3 -Q4 Consultation on 1st draft Chemicals Management Bill
Q4 Pre-Certification of the Bill.

2016 -2017 Chemicals Management Bill finalised
Q1 Submission of documents to FOSAD: ESEID Secretariat
Q2 Presentation of the draft Bill before Cabinet
Q3 Draft Bill tabled in Parliament
Q4 Supporting the parliamentary process.

At the same conference, the Chemicals and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) said that some environmental impact challenges could be addressed more holistically in the Chemicals Management Bill and in other legislative reviews, such as;
• pesticides handling
• use and disposal of containers
• environmental impact education and awareness
• compliance monitoring and enforcement.

Health, safety and environmental risks could be managed through more integrated planning and control measures.

The potential impact of incidents could be reduced through emergency response plans and drills.

CAIA proposed to the state, when reviewing the objectives of the Chemicals Management Bill, to focus on:
• improving legal compliance monitoring and enforcement, across different state departments and mandates to reduce manipulation of the system, reduce illegal possession and trafficking of chemicals and hazardous wastes, and reduce pollution
• improving implementation of legislation, to reduce improper management of chemicals
• improving legislative coordination to reduce fragmentation of regulatory frameworks. However different mandates across state departments are still required, such as international relations.
• reviewing existing legislation to provide clear, distinct mandates.

Chemicals operators see a link between Sheq challenges, and the need for skills and jobs.

“In the USA, it is estimated that each chemical industry job generates 7.5 jobs elsewhere in the economy,” said Deidré Penfold, executive director of CAIA. The chemicals industry employs 1.2% of labour in the South Africa.

“We suggested to government, the domestication of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, to be a part of the global community and support global efforts.

Industry and state must do risk assessments
“We also suggest the formalisation of the Multi-stakeholder Committee for Chemicals Management, on a rational, scientific, risk-based approach.

“There has to be political will to create a co-ordinated approach across all state departments, where implementation and enforcement are the key issues,” said Penfold. The Chemicals Management Bill could provide a basis for the required integration.

The environmental impact performance of the chemical sector exceeds that of the manufacturing sector (see a report on 2015 Responsible Care statistics on but more than half of the fine chemicals synthesis plants have shut down, and some have relocated to other countries.

The industry is in survival mode, rather than focusing on strategic, long-term project planning and implementation.

Some of the constraints that the local industry operates under, are small market size, irregular supply of electricity, labour issues, access to feedstocks, skills shortages, the cost of doing business in South Africa, and regulatory burdens.

African markets growing
In the African market, chemical industry exports have grown at 14% per year since 2000. There is significant economic development in the region and more than half of chemical industry exports from South Africa are to Africa.

CAIA is involved in environmental impact management training in the SADC region.

• Sources; DEA. CAIA. RC.
• DEA Chemicals Management; Mangaka Mahlako or Obed Baloyi, 012 399 9850 /399 9843, or

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