Australia ratified two international conventions on 20 May 2004:
the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure
for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and
the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). NICNAS
undertook implementation activity to ensure Australia met its obligations
under both treaties in 2004-05.

 

Rotterdam Convention

  The Rotterdam Convention's objective is to promote shared responsibility
and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain
hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals in order to protect human
health and the environment from potential harm and to contribute to their
environmentally sound use, by facilitating information exchange about their
characteristics.

The obligations of the Convention entered into force for Australia on
18 August 2004, and as a Party to the Convention, Australia has to take
administrative or legislative measures to implement its obligations. In order
to implement the obligations of the Convention for the eleven industrial
chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention, Regulation 11C of the
Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Regulations was
introduced effective from 5 August 2004. Regulation 11C controls the
import and export of PIC listed industrial chemicals. Two additional industrial
chemicals, tetra ethyl and tetra methyl lead, were added to the Convention
this year, effective 1 February 2005. Measures were taken by NICNAS
to ensure that the chemicals are not exported by Australian industry to
countries that do not wish to receive them. Australia also has to provide
an importing country response for these two chemicals.

Australia had notified chrysotile to the Convention in January 2004 using
the NICNAS Priority Existing Chemical Assessment for chrysotile (1999)
as the documented risk assessment. At its first meeting in February 2005,
the PIC Chemical Review Committee considered the Australian notification
of chrysotile. The notification was accepted as meeting the criteria set out
under the Convention. Processes will continue under the Convention to
list chrysotile in 2006.
 

Monitoring Rotterdam Convention compliance

During the year NICNAS put in place administrative and legislative measures
to ensure that Australia meets its obligation under the Convention including
amendments to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment)
Regulations 1990. The amendments ensured controls for the importation
of hexabromobiphenyl and the export of PIC listed industrial chemicals:
hexabromobiphenyl, octabromobiphenyl, decabromobiphenyl,
polychlorinated biphenyl and polychlorinated terphenyl. Octabromobiphenyl,
decabromobiphenyl and tris (2,3- dibromopropyl) phosphate had been
declared as priority existing chemicals on 6 July 2004.

Industry web guidance and export forms for issuing export authorisation
were developed and published on the NICNAS website. No export
applications were submitted to NICNAS during 2004-05.

The border control system has proven to be effective as NICNAS received
45 export advices from the Australian Customs Service during the year
which were checked and cleared as the goods were not related to the PIC
listed chemicals. Five PIC chemicals are included in the current monitoring
regime. Required preliminary research and analysis work based on export
and import data for those new PIC chemicals under relevant Australian
Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) codes was
conducted.
 

Communication and stakeholder engagement

Using import and export data extracted for Customs classifications relevant
to industrial chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention, about 160
advisory letters were sent by NICNAS to importers and exporters informing
them of their obligations under the Convention. As part of the current
arrangement under the MOU with the states and territories, letters and
information papers were sent by the Director, NICNAS to heads of
departments advising them of the administrative and legislative
arrangements NICNAS has put in place.

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Stockholm Convention

  The Stockholm Convention's objective is to protect human health and
the environment from the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
The Convention sets out a range of control measures to reduce and, where
feasible, eliminate POPs releases, including emissions of by-product POPs.
The Convention also aims to ensure sound management of stockpiles and
waste that contains POPs. The Convention focuses on three broad areas:
intentionally produced and used POPs, unintentionally produced or
by-product POPs and POPs in stockpiles and waste.
The Convention covers control measures on 12 POPs identified for
international action because of their persistence, bioaccumulation, longrange
dispersion and toxicity. As a Party to the Convention, Australia has
to ensure that when conducting assessment of new and existing industrial
chemicals, criteria listed in the Convention are taken into consideration.
Chemical companies may have to provide additional data to NICNAS
to enable screening of industrial chemicals new to Australia with POPs
characteristics.
 

Monitoring Stockholm Convention compliance

NICNAS has put additional screening measures in the assessment activity
to identify potential POPs chemicals. Additional data in accordance with
the Information Requirements and Screening Criteria of Annex D of
the Convention may be requested, in particular, information relating to
persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity ie half-life of the chemical in both
water and in soil, or other evidence of its persistence. Given that a POP
must satisfy all three of these criteria it is envisaged that a tiered screening
approach would be implemented, whereby only if a chemical meets one
POPs criterion would information have to be provided to screen for other
criteria. Guidance to industry on how to comply with the data requirements
on persistent chemicals is available on the NICNAS website.

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