September 3-10, 2007

Further data due from industry under federal Chemicals Management Plan

The federal government has asked industry and interested stakeholders to submit any information that may be used to inform risk assessment and to develop and benchmark best practices for risk management and product stewardship relating to 19 chemical substances assigned highest priority for action under the government's Chemicals Management Plan. The deadline for data submission is December 19, 2007.

The 19 substances make up the third in a series of 12 batches of high-priority substances first listed last fall as part of Canada's categorization of its legacy chemical substances. Government scientists are currently analyzing the results received from the first batch of substances and will do the same with the results from the second batch once they receive them this fall.

The government will assess the information it receives, along with data from other sources, to decide on the appropriate actions required to protect the environment and human health. Failure to provide new science or a demonstration of effective control and use will not prevent the government from taking precautionary measures as deemed necessary for such protection.

The Chemicals Management Plan requires manufacturers, importers and industrial users of high-priority substances to provide information to Environment Canada and Health Canada on batches of 15 to 30 substances every few months. This initiative, dubbed "The Challenge," covers 200 substances in total and the process to address all of them is expected to take about three years.

A notice of third release of technical information relevant to substances identified in the challenge was published in the August 18, 2007 edition of the Canada Gazette, Part I. More information is available at Environment Canada's chemical substances Web site, www.chemicalsubstances.gc.ca (Click on Batch 3 Challenge Substances).

In other chemical management-related activities, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have reached a formal agreement concerning North American regulatory risk-based assessment and management of existing chemical substances. The regulatory co-operation framework agreement was signed late last month by the three nations' leaders late last month at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) meeting in Montebello, Quebec.

The agreement seeks to improve trilateral regulatory co-operation in order to lower business (and subsequently consumer) costs and increase transboundary trade while maintaining high standards of environmental and health protection. Its main goals include: strengthening regulatory co-operation, particularly at the initial stages of the regulatory process; streamlining regulations and regulatory processes, notably through greater use of joint analysis or evaluation of regulatory issues of common interest; and encouraging regulatory compatibility as well as promoting the use or adoption of relevant international standards and/or domestic voluntary consensus standards.

The agreement was supported by three Canadian and U.S. industry associations. The Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (CCSPA), the U.S. Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), and the U.S. Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) noted that the agreement is the result of continuing work in the area of the Regulatory Co-operation Framework under the SPP that will ensure co-ordination of regulatory processes, promote best practices, offer a forum for sharing information and keep public health and protection as a priority.

"We welcome this very timely decision," said CCSPA president Shannon Coombs. "Canada announced its own world-leading review of chemical substances late last year and we think this work can now be extended to include exploration of this new, North American-wide initiative that will further help to protect the citizens of each country and our environment."

CSPA president Chris Cathcart said, "the SPP aims for greater co-operation and information-sharing between the three countries and will enhance our competitiveness in North America - it is a very positive step in that direction."

"This initiative makes a lot of sense, both for consumers and for industry," said Ernie Rosenberg, SDA president and CEO. "We need a credible chemical management system, harmonized with Canada and Mexico, to give the public confidence that our products are safe to use."

The CCSPA represents 47 companies in Canada's consumer, industrial and institutional specialty products industry. The SDA represents more than 100 manufacturers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products, their ingredients and finished packaging; oleochemical producers; and chemical distributors to the cleaning product industry. The group's members produce more than 90% of the cleaning products marketed in the U.S. CSPA members include some 260 companies that manufacture, formulate, distribute and sell aerosol, air care, antimicrobial, cleaning, pest management, industrial, automotive, polish and floor maintenance products.

Also coming out of the SSP meeting was a new trilateral agreement for co-operation in energy and science technology. The three countries have agreed to work together on research and development, joint projects and deployment of advanced energy technologies. The terms of the agreement cover renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as nuclear energy and fossil fuels, with specific areas of co-operation addressing: low- or zero-emission energy production and end-use technologies; low-carbon fuels; carbon dioxide sequestration; hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; and electricity generation, storage and transmissions.

In conjunction with this agreement, the three nations' leaders have asked their ministers to explore ways to co-operate on national auto fuel efficiency standards; to develop relevant projects under the agreement; to co-operate in the development of biofuels, vehicle fuel efficiency technologies and technologies to reduce emissions; and to share information and experience and co-operate in efforts to achieve comparable emission measurement, reporting and verification in order to develop publicly available national emissions inventories. This exchange would include sharing emissions information on compounds such as NOx, SOx, CO2, VOCs, NH3, Hg and particulates.

Finally, Canada and the U.S. further agreed to the reciprocal recognition of containers used for the transportation of dangerous goods.

More information on the SPP meeting is available on the SPP Web site, www.spp.gov.

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