In an article published on August 29, 2018, regulatory news provider Chemical Watch summarized the latest discussions that the non-governmental organization (NGO) International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) was having with the director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Björn Hansen.

Anne-Sofie Andersson, ChemSec’s executive director, wrote her first letter to Hansen on July 3, 2018. Among others, she expressed concerns about the low speed of the processes leading to the identification of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) and about the “huge pressure” exerted by industry trying to delay SVHC identification for certain substances.

In his response sent on July 17, 2018, Hansen said that “the SVHC Roadmap is doing well” and assured that ECHA is “independent” and “well set up for being resilient against external pressure.”

In her second letter to Hansen, sent on August 24, 2018, Andersson reiterated her opinion that “the pace of populating the Candidate List has been far too slow.” She said that she “do[es] not feel reassured” by Hansen’s answers regarding how to “ensure that substances do not get stuck in expert groups, but that SVHCs get listed at a higher pace” and how to “assure that certain industry strategies to slow down the system will not be successful.”

Andersson characterized the current state of affairs as “paralysis by analysis,” discussed in detail in another ChemSec article published on August 7, 2018 (FPF reported). She called on ECHA’s committees and expert groups “to more often act on the available data without routinely asking for more information.” She explained that “asking for more data is very effectively slowing down substance evaluation and identification of new SVHCs,” both because “data generation takes time” and because “requirements for new data are routinely overruled.”

With this, Andersson concluded that there is “a need to change the organization culture” at ECHA and called on Hansen to use his “influence to improve the situation.” As an example, she suggested that “a better use of the precautionary principle will help to speed up the identification of SVHCs.”

Read more

Chemical Watch (August 29, 2018). “ECHA ‘culture shift’ can speed up SVHC identification – NGO.

Anne-Sofie Andersson (August 24, 2018). “Letters to Hansen. International Chemical Secretariat

Björn Hansen (July 17, 2018). “Subject: Your letter of 3 July 2018.European Chemicals Agency (pdf)

Anne-Sofie Andersson (July 3, 2018). “A letter to Björn Hansen.International Chemical Secretariat