MEPs extend chlorinated paraffin ban

Environment committee says draft EU law should be brought into line with Ospar decision

A proposed EU ban on short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) does not go far enough and should be brought into line with a tougher phase-out already agreed by 11 member states under the Ospar convention, the European Parliament's environment committee said today.

The European Commission proposed the ban last July as the result of a full EU risk assessment of SCCPs under the 1991 existing substances directive (ENDS Daily 5 July 2000). Under the Commission's proposal SCCPs would be phased out in the metal and leatherworking industries by July 2002, with a review before January 2003 to determine the fate of use of the chemicals in other industries.

But the committee effectively rejected the results of the risk assessment by including in the ban SCCPs used as flame-retardants in rubber, plastics and textiles, and as plasticisers in paints and other coatings. These applications have been banned in 11 of the EU's 12 Ospar member states since the end of 1999 under a decision taken in 1995.

If endorsed by the full parliament the move could set a pattern for its stance on dozens of future proposals relating to the EU chemical review, with the assembly preferring to side with multilateral environmental agreements and other external legislation rather than following recommendations produced by its own internal review procedures.

The Commission says the phase-out as currently proposed would remove 98% of the SCCPs currently used, leaving just 50 kilograms annually in circulation for other applications. Such a volume "does not present a risk... based on ecotoxicology," according to a Commission official addressing the committee today.

Follow Up:
European Parliament environment committee, tel: +32 2 284 2111. The committee's amendments to the Commission proposal will soon be posted here.

Correction: 19/1/01 This article was incorrect in reporting that the Commission's planned restrictions on SCCPs would leave only 50 kilograms per year on the market. The Commission estimates instead that the measure would cut annual releases to the environment to this level. The most recent SCCP salees figures, from 1998, show the proposal would leave about 2,000 tonnes, or about half the currently traded volume, still on the market.

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