Public Access to EPA's New Chemical Decisions Welcomed

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By Pat Rizzuto

Aug. 18 — The Environmental Protection Agency's Web page that posts its new chemical risk conclusions provides the public some safety assurance, a chemical manufacturer said.

“EPA’s posting of its premanufacture notice determinations provides more transparency for the public. This is a good step forward for transparency and providing more information about the safety of materials that are destined for products,” Genet Garamendi, senior vice president for corporate communications, sustainability and government relations at Solazyme Inc., told Bloomberg BNA by e-mail.

The agency reviewed two chemicals Solazyme designed for use as lubricants, lubricant ingredients or to make other chemicals, finding that the two chemicals were “not likely to present an unreasonable risk.”

That finding is the most innocuous of the four possible determinations the EPA can select as it decides whether a new chemical can be made in or imported into the U.S. under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. No. 114-182). The act, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act, became law June 22.

No Delay in EPA's Review of Solazyme's Chemicals

Solazyme was pleased that the EPA reached its risk conclusion without delay even though TSCA was amended since the company filed its premanufacture notices in April and May.

“EPA did inform us there might be delays, but we did not experience any delays,” Garamendi said.

The EPA has announced findings for seven new chemicals since Lautenberg was enacted. Solazyme is the only manufacturer of the seven chemicals that didn't invoke confidential business information provisions in submitting its premanufacture notices to the EPA.

Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, welcomed the public information the EPA now makes available about its new chemical decisions. More information, however, would be helpful, he wrote in a July 22 blog.

Public Is Viewing EPA Posts

EPA information about the amended TSCA is getting public attention, according to statistics on website usage the agency provided Bloomberg BNA.

The Lautenberg Web page, which provides the most information, had 37,193 page views from June 22 to Aug. 16, which averages to about 664 page views per day over 56 days, the agency said.

The new chemicals Web page had 2,455 page views from its establishment on July 22 through Aug. 16, which averages 94 page views per day over 26 days, the EPA said.

Dan Newton, senior manager of government relations at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, or SOCMA, didn't comment on the public availability of EPA's decisions, but, unlike Solazyme, voiced concern about the time it's taking the EPA to evaluate new chemical notices.

Trade Association Concerned by Delays

“There is some concern mounting that EPA is not going to be able to meet its deadlines in the first year,” Newton told Bloomberg BNA by e-mail.

“The agency has a substantial backlog,” he said.

As of Aug. 15, the EPA was reviewing 416 premanufacture notices, an agency spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA. A total of 336 of the notices, including the seven for which the EPA has completed its analyses, were under review when President Obama signed the Lautenberg Act into law June 22, she said.

Newton said, “We acknowledge the EPA has a new mandate regarding the review of PMNs, which understandably will take some time to adjust to.”

Concerns Raised New Chemical Notice

The society's members, who often make small batches of specially designed molecules, are particularly concerned about delays in one type of new chemical notice, Newton said.

He referred to situations in which the EPA fully or partially exempts a new chemical from the requirement that its manufacturer submit a premanufacture notice.

For example, a manufacturer may not have to submit a full premanufacture notice if it's making a chemical solely for test marketing.

The amendments made to TSCA “should not affect [EPA's] ability to keep current its decisions on exemptions and exemption modifications. Unfortunately, decisions on these notices have not been updated since enactment of the new TSCA,” Newton said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Rizzuto in Washington at prizzuto@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

EPA's Lautenberg webpage is available at http://src.bna.com/hRN.

EPA's new chemicals webpage is available at http://src.bna.com/hRO.

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