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On 28 December 2016, Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) proposed MoE Public Notice No. 2016-869, revising the Act on Registration and Evaluation of Chemical Substances (K-REACH). The proposed changes would impose stricter controls on chemicals.
Korea’s MoE has proposed to revise K-REACH. The major proposed changes are as follows:
- The annual reporting system will be abolished and instead, a pre-registration system will be established by revising Article 8 of the regulation.
- The system for designating Priority Existing Chemicals (PECs) will be deleted (Article 9). Instead, a registration system for all existing chemical substances over one ton per year will be established by revising Article 10 of the regulation. A grace period of three years will be provided for manufacturers and importers.
- The management system for substances subject to authorization will be changed by revising Article 25 of the regulation. Instead of publishing the chemical uses subject to authorization, the chemical uses exempt from authorization will be published.
- Hazardous chemical information such as the name and mixture content, regardless of registration status or quantity, shall be provided to users (Article 29 of the regulation to be revised).
- The scope for which products containing hazardous substances are subject to notification will be expanded including: carcinogenic, mutagenic or accumulative substances (revising Article 32).
- The manufacture, importation or sale of chemicals which cause any harm to human health or the environment without registration will be punished by penalty (newly adding Article 37 Paragraph 2).
The proposed revisions in this public notice will impose stricter obligations on the Korean chemical industry as well as on companies exporting chemical substances to Korea.
First, as set out in items 1 and 2 above, MoE proposes to abolish the current policy requiring registration only for chemicals which are designated as subject to registration. Currently, there are only 510 chemicals on this list. Instead, they are now proposing to require registration for all existing chemicals manufactured or imported in amounts exceeding one ton per year. Thus, the scope of chemical registration will be greatly expanded. MoE has proposed a grace period of three years for this process of existing chemicals registration.
Second, as set out in item 3 above, chemicals subject to authorization (permission) will be prohibited from manufacture, import, use or sale unless a permit exemption is granted. The current K-REACH provisions designate the uses of chemicals which require permission prior to manufacture, import, use and/or sale. In contrast, the proposed revision would designate the uses of chemicals which are not subject to permission. Thus, the proposed regulation appears to be stricter in this regard.
Third, there is a much broader scope for hazardous chemical information which will be provided, as well as a broader scope for the breadth of products requiring notification (see 4 and 5 above). Companies that manufacture or import chemical substances will have to provide all information on hazardous chemicals and their mixtures to users.
MoE has opened a consultation period for the Notice until 6 February 2017.