On Monday, February 1, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("USEPA") published notice that it is promulgating new Significant New Use Rules ("SNURs") under Section 5(a)(2) of the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA") for 15 chemical substances. TSCA was passed in 1976 to regulate new and existing chemical use and manufacture. Companies that use the 15 chemicals identified in the new SNURs will be subject to additional requirements under TSCA, including recordkeeping, before manufacturing or importing the chemicals. The effective date of the rule is April 2, 2010.* Once the new rules are effective, activities designated as significant new uses of the 15 chemical substances will require companies to submit 90-day prior notice to USEPA in order to get approval to use, manufacture, import, or process them for such an activity. The chemical substances regulated by this new rule were the subject of premanufacture notices under TSCA. The 15 listed chemicals include the industrial solvent cyclopentane; 1H-benz(e)indolium (a substance used as a chemical intermediate for the manufacturing of dye in imaging media/products); alkylamide (a raw material for the manufacture of photosensitive materials); two oil additives; and other specific chemicals used in industrial/commercial paint and ink formulations, indoor industrial heating oil, and a solvent blend for industrial cleaning and as an air-conditioning refrigerant in new passenger vehicles.

These new rules are consistent with USEPA's continuing efforts to revamp federal chemical management law and implement new initiatives to strengthen the current chemical management program. The changes come in the wake of USEPA's announcement of its six core principles for reform of TSCA issued last fall. USEPA's principles are intended to assist Congress with its TSCA legislative reform efforts. The principles urge Congress to incorporate the following recommendations into the legislative reform of TSCA:

  1. Establish safety standards based on sound science and scientific risk assessments.
  2. Transparency - manufacturers should be required to provide sufficient hazard, exposure, and use data to enable USEPA to make a determination of whether the materials meet the safety standards.
  3. Permit USEPA to take risk management actions when chemicals do not meet the safety standards.
  4. Provide USEPA the flexibility to consider many variables when selecting an appropriate risk management action, including children's health, economic costs, social benefits, and equity concerns.
  5. Provide USEPA the authority to set deadlines and priorities for conducting safety reviews of new and existing chemicals.
  6. Include stricter requirements for a manufacturer's claim of confidential business information, including the notion that health and safety data should not be treated as confidential.

USEPA recommends that dedicated funding be allocated to the revamped program, noting that manufacturers should support the costs of USEPA's implementation of the program.

It is uncertain when Congress will release draft legislation to reform TSCA. What is certain is that USEPA has resources focused on revamping how chemicals are used and manufactured in the United States and on the associated safety ramifications.

The effective date of the new rules is April 2, 2010, unless USEPA receives written adverse comments or notice of intent to submit same before March 3, 2010. In that event, USEPA will withdraw the relevant sections of the proposed rule. Thereafter, USEPA will publish a new proposed SNUR for the chemicals that were the subject of the adverse comments and provide a 30-day period for public comment for same