DIRECTOR'S
OVERVIEW

 

This year was an important and effective year for NICNAS, with a strong
performance in gaining regulatory efficiencies, enhanced flexibility and better
ways of working with our stakeholders. This year was a particularly busy
year. We saw increased numbers of new chemical applications,
we undertook enhanced compliance and industry awareness activities, we
increased the output of chemical safety information and we strengthened
our links with other regulatory agencies, both nationally and internationally.

All of these activities were achieved within budget, to quality and time
and to a high level of stakeholder satisfaction. This is a reflection on the
enthusiasm and dedication of all NICNAS staff as well as the cooperation
and contribution from our community, industry and government partners.

In particular, 2003-04 was a significant year for reform.

The Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment (Low
Regulatory Concern Chemicals) Bill 2004
was successfully passed through
both Houses of Parliament on 24 June 2004, establishing the framework
for the low regulatory concern chemicals (LRCC) initiative.

In parallel to the development of the legislative framework we also
implemented a key LRCC recommendation calling for a community
consultative forum. This led to the appointment, in November 2003, of
NICNAS’s Community Engagement Forum (CEF). The establishment of the
CEF recognises the advantages to NICNAS in maintaining an ongoing
dialogue with the public through the establishment of formal consultative
mechanisms. Representatives from civil society play a vital role in
Government and industry decision-making and advisory bodies.

Community engagement will ensure that NICNAS has access to the widest
possible range of views. This reflects the fact that, increasingly, the
Government has come to rely on civil society’s contributions to the policy
decision-making process. The resulting advice or decisions are more robust
and more likely to be accepted as they represent the views of the broader
civil society. The success of this model was demonstrated in that both
Houses of Parliament viewed the LRCC Bill as non-controversial given
the level of community participation and support in the LRCC initiative.

Building on the strength of this consultative model, the CEF will have
a major role next year in shaping the way in which NICNAS undertakes
the review of its existing chemicals assessment program.

NICNAS was also able to bring about a number of innovations flowing from
the LRCC activity. This included the introduction of interim arrangements for
self-assessment certificates for polymers of low concern and the alignment,
through the use of templates, of notification and assessments via the OECD
New Chemicals Task Force. These innovations saw the reduction in time
and cost to industry while supporting and strengthening heath, safety
and environmental standards.

On the strength of the innovation behind the LRCC initiative, we received
international recognition and support. This resulted in NICNAS being
approached by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop
a bilateral relationship. Work commenced on this activity in March 2004
and has the full support of industry and our other bilateral partners, Canada
and New Zealand. A bilateral arrangement with the US EPA will represent
a major step forward for Australian industry and its competitiveness in the
global market place. It is very pleasing that the LRCC Reform has been
viewed internationally as ground-breaking reform. This will ensure Australia's
continued place in international harmonisation activities.

In meeting our commitment to improved public access to chemical safety
information, NICNAS has enhanced its website by making the chemical
inventory freely searchable online. With the Australian Inventory of Chemical
Substances (AICS) online, together with the changes developed under
LRCC, we are now well placed to improve our online services on chemical
information. Importantly, AICS will be developed as a key source
of information.

This year we have also worked to ensure our readiness to implement the
Government’s commitment to ratify two significant international conventions
on the environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals - namely,
the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure
for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
and
the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. February 2004
saw the passage of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment)
Amendment (Rotterdam Convention) Bill 2004
providing the legislative
framework for NICNAS to ensure Australia will be able to meet
its international obligations.

Top of Page

 

Future Directions

Our focus during 2004-05 will be on effective partnerships to deliver
whole of government achievement.

Key activities will include the:

• Review of the Existing Chemicals Assessment Program
   and implementation of its recommendations;
• Implementation of the outstanding LRCC reforms particularly:
   - the development of low risk and low hazard criteria,
   - the annotation of the chemical inventory; and
   - the finalisation of the review of the therapeutic/cosmetic interface and
     implementation of the recommendations;
• Strengthening our relationship with small and medium chemical business
   through NICNAS registration;
• Progression of bilateral arrangements including the:
   - finalisation of the NICNAS-Canadian Bilateral agreement to allow
     Canada to be an Approved Foreign Scheme under our Act,
   - progression of the NICNAS-US EPA Bilateral agreement; and
   - implementation of the work plan on cooperation under the NICNASERMA
     NZ (Environmental Risk Management Authority) Memorandum
     of Understanding.

Importantly, NICNAS will apply its newly developed Community Engagement
Strategy across all aspects of our work in 2004-05.

Top of Page

 

Key achievements 2003-04

 

Assessment – New Chemicals

• 392 notifications received: 208 assessment certificates (an increase
   of 16 per cent) and 184 permits (increase of 12 per cent) completed
• 61 Early Introduction Permits (EIP) issued, (56 per cent increase)
• 15 new chemicals authorised for confidential listing in AICS
• Over 600 Material Safety Data Sheets assessed and 32 hazardous
   chemicals classified
• Industry saves over $83,000 under the foreign scheme
• Industry saves $1.17million due to <10 kg exemption category
• No appeals of New Chemicals assessment decisions
• Interim arrangement for audited self-assessment for polymers
   of low concern


Assessment – Existing Chemicals

• Suite of supporting documents developed following targeted consultations
   in preparation for upcoming review of the Existing Chemicals program
• Published to time and quality:
   - full risk assessments on Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate Anti-Valve Seat
     Recession Additive and Alkyl Phosphate Anti-Valve Seat Recession
     Additives;
     - over 30 other assessment reviews including three Safety Information
     Sheets, an Alert on Methylene Chloride use in paint stripping, five public
     health evaluations, 17 chemicals assessed for classification as
     sensitisers, and an environmental exposure report on six short chain
     chlorinated paraffins
• Peer reviewed 61 international chemicals assessments and agreed 124
   assessments under international cooperation programs

 

Reform

• The Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment
   (Low Regulatory Concern Chemicals) Bill 2004 passed both Houses
   of Parliament
• Established frame work for introduction of NICNAS mandatory registration
• Interim arrangements for self-assessment certificates for polymers of low
   concern operational with 15 per cent discount to industry and reduced
   time frames
• Commencement of bi-lateral discussions with the US EPA
• Science Forum on International Harmonisation And Best Practice
   Approaches To Health Risk Assessment hosted 25 September 2003
• Community Engagement Forum established
• Industry awareness training on NICNAS reforms

 

Compliance

• 30 cases resolved within the targeted timeframe of 100 days
• 107 registration cases resolved, 95 per cent within the targeted
   timeframe of 80 days
• 20 site visits made to raise awareness of industry’s obligations
• Development of Rotterdam Convention Implementation Framework
• Joint compliance activity with Australian Competition and Consumer
   Commission (ACCC) on children’s cosmetics
• NICNAS Inspectors’ Manual developed as a guide to auditing and
   inspection techniques welcomed by states and territories and industry
• NICNAS staff complete Compliance Auditing training
• Compliance training seminars and workshops well received by industry


Communication

• 69.5 per cent increase in NICNAS website usage; 17,239 hits each day,
   over six million for the year
• Chemical inventory online with free access to all
• 154 media enquiries on chemical safety issues dealt with to target
   and performance satisfaction
• Service Charter performance targets met; survey results show high
   industry client satisfaction in relation to the:
   - relevance of publications, 91 per cent (8 per cent increase)
   - satisfaction with publications, 91 per cent (8 per cent increase)

 

 

 
 

Top of Page     Print this page

 
 

<- Previous Page

Next Page ->