Sat, Dec 22, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers pass new ‘monitored chemical’ category

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, center, speaks to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Johnny Chiang, left, while KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng, right, listens at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Bin-chao, Taipei Times

The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed amendments to the Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act (毒性化學物質管理法), renaming it the Toxic Chemical Substances Monitoring and Control Act (毒性及化學物質關注管理法) to reflect a new category of controlled chemical substances — those that are non-toxic, but may pose environmental or health hazards.

The new category of chemical substances — called “monitored chemical substances” — should be identified based on domestic or foreign issues pertaining to consumers’ or people’s lives, and publicly announced by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), which is also to formulate measures to regulate such substances, one amendment says.

Entities whose operations entail the use of monitored substances should obtain the approval of the local government before commencing operations, another amendment says.

To help the EPA screen and control chemical substances, a fund is to be set up using the agency’s budget, operating fees it collects from entities that use such substances, allocations from other environmental protection funds, processing fees paid by entities when registering chemical substances, interest and fines, the amendment says.

To streamline policymaking efforts to manage chemical substances, the Executive Yuan, led by the premier, is to convene national chemical substance management meetings with officials at relevant agencies, as well as academics, experts and members of civic groups, it says.

The Executive Yuan is to track each agency’s progress executing decisions reached during the meetings and publish the results in the premier’s administrative reports to the legislature, it says.

In the wake of a deadly fire this April at a printed circuit board factory operated by Chin-Poon Industrial Co in Taoyuan, which killed six firefighters and two Thai employees, the amended act requires entities whose operations involve the use of toxic or monitored chemicals to submit floor plans of their premises when applying for operating permits with local governments.

Firms that have obtained an operating permit should forward a copy of the floor plan to local firefighting departments, it says.

The amended act includes a clause that protects whistle-blowers who report infractions by their employers from retaliation in the form of a demotion, dismissal or salary cut.

Those whose use, production, import or sales of toxic or monitored chemical substances cause deaths could face seven years in jail or a life sentence, in addition to a fine of between NT$5 million and NT$10 million (US$162,338 and US$324,675), while those liable for severe injuries to others face a maximum jail term of 10 years and a maximum fine of NT$5 million, it says.

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