Public submissions to the review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme.

Page last updated: 20 March 2012

PDF printable version on DuPont submission (PDF 24 KB)

DuPont Comment to the Public Submissions to the Review of NICNAS

DuPont offers the following public comment regarding the manner in which NICNAS has fulfilled its role and function. There are many issues that NICNAS could improve however the single most important area is that of accepting the outcomes of substances that have been assessed overseas. This comment applies to both new chemicals and existing chemical assessment. It also directly impacts the ongoing running costs of NICNAS as NICNAS recreate what is already done overseas and needlessly expend scarce resources.

In NICNAS pursuing their current agenda there appears to no reality check that Australia represents 0.6% of the global chemical industry sales and 0.85% of the global trade in chemicals.

The Act gives NICNAS power to assess chemicals but that does not mean NICNAS need to “recreate the wheel“ when assessing chemicals already assessed by other globally pre-eminent jurisdictions on the basis of technicalities of assessment not being in NICNAS required format.

The assessment capabilities of Canada, USA and EU are jurisdictions that use global best practice assessment methods and are of the highest quality. The requirement for NICNAS to require a rewriting and reformatting of the manner in which the underlying report is constructed implies these jurisdictions are deficient in assessing human health concerns which is plainly not a credible argument.

However NICNAS will not accept the conclusions from these jurisdictions. NICNAS appear to need to rewrite the assessment to make it Australian form, and in doing so make it valid for Australia. Changes need to be made to eliminate this waste and misapprehension that NICNAS cannot directly use outcomes from other premier chemical assessment jurisdictions. With increasing globalization the maintenance of such parochial practice is inefficient, needlessly costly and in need of serious overhaul so that NICNAS can accept the outcomes of other pre- eminent jurisdictions. Top of Page

Other areas of concern are:
  • No visible progress on numerous Productivity Commission recommendations and reforms put forward for NICNAS and supported by COAG. “Some Early harvest reforms” are still to be delivered.
  • as inefficient costs and inefficient resource utilization by NICNAS in the area of external reports and consultant services
  • Registration fees of a magnitude comparable basis with other OECD countries on a per capita and are grossly too high for an economy the size of Australia and act to reduce the introduction of new technology and the development of any new Australian bred technology or new technology that will be used many industry segments where modest volumes are required.

    Attached is a valid cost model pertaining to the paint industry that illustrates how the NICNAS scheme acts as a disincentive to introduce technology that will only be used in modest volumes. Further that there is a volume rang between 100 Kg and 1,450Kg (or greater) for registering chemicals where the NICNAS scheme is a positive cost disincentive.
    (DuPont has indicated this attachment is confidential and it has not been included).
  • The Australian economy consists of a few globally competitive segments supported by a patchwork of small service and manufacturing industry segments reliant on the Australian chemical industry for their basic inputs. The failure to introduce new technology in these small industry segments due to the registration volume relative to NICNAS fees being cost prohibitive, results in a subtle globally anticompetitive effect relative to our trading partners. The NICNAS scheme and processes act to provide a cost and time delay disincentive to service an industry structure that is progressively becoming more patchwork.
  • The existing chemicals program is funded by government in Canada whereas under NICNAS, the existing chemicals assessment program is 100 per cent cost recovered through NICNAS registration fees. Existing chemicals program is an impost on a smaller Australian chemical industry that is not globally competitive or comparable.
  • Similar to NICNAS, Canada can reassess chemicals under their Significant New Activity (SNAc) provisions. However, no fee is charged in Canada. In NICNAS there is an assessment fee for the secondary notification of a chemical not on the inventory but no fee for the secondary notification assessment of an existing chemical.
  • NICNAS has most of its new chemicals income and hence effort is applied to the low risk areas of the risk spectrum such as PLC’s and Limited polymers. NICNAS use the globally toughest criteria to assess PLC polymers and Limited Polymers and there is no validation that such a significant expenditure of resources on the lower risk end of the risk spectrum provides optimum value to stakeholders. This is sub-optimal use of resources relative to risk.
  • The NICNAS scheme with its globally high costs for all notifications and time delays (except for PLC’s) act to eliminate new technology entering a small market such as Australia due to the cost impost.
  • The PEC report for HBCD illustrates a solid reason why NICNAS should be limited to providing chemical assessment as its role. In the conclusion of the HBCD PEC NICNAS have recommended that HBCD should be phased out. It is important to understand that the primary use of HBCD is in electrical equipment and that it is the essential ingredient in making the plastic surrounds, switchgear and circuit boards of electrical equipment Non Flammable. The recommendation to phase out HBCD is unwise until a workable alternative is found. In making the recommendation NICNAS have not undertaken a full risk assessment or Regulatory Impact Statement of what a phase out would mean and if it can be done safely and will not lead to increased fire risk. NICNAS should have considered these factors as a matter of good governance if they are to be a regulator as well as an assessment body.
  • Similarly the power to annotate the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances to ban or phase out chemicals, and the responsibilities for administering the Cosmetic Standard 2007, and for implementing the Rotterdam Convention, should be removed from NICNAS
  • The report titled LRCC Reforms: An Evaluation of the Impact on Industry- Final Report produced 12 key options for reform. The report was produced from industry cost recovered funds (plus the costs of industry input to the consultation). There is currently no process for implementation. After 12 months – task completed but NO outcomes.

    Should the recipients require to discuss any of the contents please contact the undersigned.


    Robert Ward
    Dupont (Australia) Ltd