Norway to widen access to chemicals data

Changes to national products register set for autumn as new confidentiality row breaks

Norway is considering legislation to increase public access to a controversial national list of hazardous chemicals contained in products, ENDS Daily learned today. Despite numerous government promises to improve public access to the national "products register" (ENDS Daily 2 August 1999), this is still restricted to a few official ministries and agencies on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.

Set up in 1981, the register currently lists about 30,000 hazardous chemical compounds. Producers, distributors and consumers of more than 100 kilograms per year of such compounds are required to declare their use to the register and to comply with health, environment, safety and labelling regulations (ENDS Daily 3 June 1999).

The issue of public access to the information was raised again yesterday when national newspaper Klassekampen reported that the national Pollution Control Authority (SFT) had refused to disclose to an NGO the names of products on the register containing known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Klassekampen noted that the decision was in apparent defiance of a ruling by the parliamentary ombudsman last year that public access to information was guaranteed under the constitution.

"We want to end this criticism as much as anybody," an SFT spokesperson told ENDS Daily today. "We are not responsible for the rules; it is not up to us to decide. But I can tell you that something is going to happen with the products register in the autumn."

Follow Up:
SFT, +47 22 57 34 00; Klassekampen, tel: +47 22 05 95 00.

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