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ECHA Releases Chemical Manufacturer Info

The European Chemicals Agency has begun to disclose information about which chemicals companies make and import, more than a year after the agency was sued for its alleged lack of transparency.

ECHA has published company names together with the registration numbers of each substance they make that is filed under the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations. The disclosure, which amounts to some 26,000 company names and registered chemical substances, follows the agency’s decision last year to extend the content of information published on chemicals.

Companies were allowed to submit confidentiality claims by the end of October, if publication of the additional information was seen as harmful to their legitimate commercial interests, ECHA said.

Environmental law organization ClientEarth and non-profit ChemSec filed a lawsuit against ECHA in May 2011 over the agency’s refusal to release the names of companies producing what the two groups describe as some of the most dangerous chemicals in the EU market. The ECHA immediately responded and said it would publish more information on chemical substances. However, that information hasn’t been disclosed until now.

ChemSec hailed the decision and said the newly publicly available information will help investors evaluate chemical companies and the financial risks arising from future bans or restrictions. The information is particularly useful for downstream users to understand the business of their suppliers, said ChemSec.

ECHA said it will add more information from safety data sheets to its website over the coming months. The next release of information, starting this month, will include the publication of Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) and very Persistent, very Bioaccumulative (vPvB) chemical assessment results.

Meanwhile, ChemSec continues to push the industry to find substitutes for hazardous substances. In June, the non-profit unveiled a chemical cataloging tool to help investors determine risk and put pressure on companies to move away from hazardous chemicals.

The US EPA has moved toward greater transparency of potentially hazardous chemicals in recent years. The federal agency established a plan in 2010 to review confidentiality claims for the names of chemicals addressed in health and safety studies in an effort to move towards declassifying many chemical identities so they are no longer secret.

Last year, the EPA notified five companies that the identities of 14 chemicals associated with a number of health and safety studies submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act and claimed as confidential are not eligible for confidential treatment.

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