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EPA Official Says New Chemical Law Could Add 'Some Flexibility' For Manufacturers

Chemical companies could soon have added flexibility to utilize certain compounds under evaluation by environmental regulators.

Chemical companies could soon have added flexibility to utilize certain compounds under evaluation by environmental regulators.

Greg Sullivan, the acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency's chemical enforcement division, told a Chemical Watch summit last week that the EPA's enforcement procedures are set to undergo "major changes" in the wake of a federal chemical oversight law passed this summer.

CW reported that one provision, in particular, that's likely to change is a 90-day waiting period for pre-manufacture notices — which notify the EPA about the use of new chemicals — that stem from EPA enforcement actions.

Under the nation's former chemical laws, such enforcement actions required companies to quarantine the affected chemicals for the entirety of that period even if the agency does not find potential risks.

The new law, enacted this summer, will likely strengthen the EPA's evaluation of new and existing chemicals, but Sullivan noted that, in that specific case, it would add "a little bit of flexibility."

"If there was really no concern about the chemical and it was being quarantined just because of its regulatory status ... everyone had to sit around and wait for the 90 days to run out," Sullivan told CW. "I think those days are over.”

Sullivan added that the law would also enable the EPA enact more regulations to address chemical risks — potentially including restrictions or bans -- and said that he hopes the agency will be able to partner with state environmental officials.

Ultimately, Sullivan said officials hope that the new law will allow them to narrow their investigations to only "the highest-risk chemicals."

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