Publication of the Chemicals Bill 2008


Mr Billy Kelleher TD Minister for Labour Affairs has announced the publication of the Government's Chemicals Bill, 2008, which will put in place a more streamlined and coherent legal framework for the regulation of chemicals in Ireland pursuant to EU chemicals legislation.

The measures proposed in the Bill include -

  • Designation of a number of national authorities - including the Health and Safety Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Minister for Health and Children and the Revenue Commissioners - to be responsible for specific areas of enforcement;
  • Co-operation arrangements for national authorities to carry out joint enforcement activities and to share information with each other and with authorities in other EU member states;
  • A range of enforcement powers aimed at encouraging compliance and discouraging non-compliance;
  • Provision for penalties for offences - in most cases up to €5,000 and/or 6 months' imprisonment for summary offences and €3,000,000 and/or 2 years' imprisonment for indictable offences - and
  • Provision for 'on-the-spot' fines of up to €2,000 for minor offences;
  • Protection of whistleblowers in the event of breaches of chemicals law being reported in good faith.

Minister Kelleher said "The publication of the Bill marks an important step in the delivery of the commitment under the Programme for Government to implement the EU regulatory framework governing the manufacturing and use of chemicals, in a way in which does not impact on the competitiveness of our economy."

The EU chemicals legislation being implemented by the Chemicals Bill include the following -

  1. The EU REACH Chemicals Regulation provides for the registration by producers and importers of all chemicals, including preparations or present in articles, manufactured or placed on the market, in quantities of one tonne or more per year.
    Failure to register will mean the substance cannot be manufactured or used or imported into the EU market. There are duties to provide information and procedures for the evaluation of chemicals - and, where chemicals pose particular risks, systems for authorisations and restrictions. Substitution with safer alternatives is encouraged.
    REACH establishes the European Chemicals Agency to administer the Regulation in cooperation with the national competent authorities.
  2. The EU Regulation on the rules governing the import and export of dangerous chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention - the primary aim of which is to control the supply of such chemicals to third-world countries, based on the principle of prior informed consent.
  3. The EU Detergents Regulation which aims to harmonise rules relating to the biodegradability of surfactants in detergents, restrictions or bans on surfactants on grounds of biodegradability, additional labelling of detergents - including fragrance allergens - and information that manufacturers must hold at the disposal of the Member States' competent authorities and medical personnel.
    The EU Detergents Regulation is currently given further effect to through regulations made under the European Communities Act 1972.
  4. The EU 'Seveso' Directive - aimed at controlling major hazards involving dangerous substances and their likely effects, should incidents occur, on people and the environment. The Seveso Directives are currently transposed in Ireland through regulations made under the European Communities Act 1972.

To download the Chemicals Bill 2008 - Click Here