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Officials from the State Council Office of Legislative Affairs and State Administration on Work Safety Answer Questions about the Amendment of Regulations on Safety of Hazardous Chemicals

Premier Wen Jiabao signed the order of the State Council and released the amended Regulations on the Management of Safety of Hazardous Chemicals (hereinafter referred to as the Regulations) on March 2, 2011, which will go into effect as of December 1. The official in charge from the State Council Office of Legislative Affairs and State Administration on Work Safety answered the questions of a journalist on the amendment of the Regulations on March 13. 
Question: Why do we amend the Regulations on the Management of Hazardous Chemicals?
Answer: The existing Regulations on the Management of Safety of Hazardous Chemicals has been implemented since March 15, 2002. There are some new situations and problems in safety management of hazardous chemicals over the past few years: 1) the State Council carried out two institutional reforms, one in 2003 and the other in 2008 with change of work division of relevant department in terms of safety management of hazardous chemicals. 2) there emerge some weak links in the safety management of hazardous chemicals, for example, relatively many accidents in the enterprises employing hazardous chemicals during production and prominent  public safety issue of hazardous chemicals used to manufacture explosives. 3) law enforcement practice reflects that some systems of existing regulations are not complete, for example, the provisions on punishment of infringements are not clear, and punishment on infringements not completely suitable to the nature and hazard of the conduct. The amendment of the Regulations this time aims at adapting to these new situations and more effectively strengthen safety management of hazardous chemicals. 
Question::How do the amended Regulations reflect the change of division of responsibility of relevant departments?
Answer: There are the changes in the following three areas: 1) Change "economic & trade comprehensive administrative department", "economic & trade administrative department", "department responsible for comprehensive supervision & management of hazardous chemicals" mentioned in existing Regulations into "work safety supervision department". 2) Change the provisions of "economic & trade administrative department shall be responsible for review and designation of the manufacturers of hazardous chemicals package and containers" in existing Regulations into "Quality supervision and quarantine department shall be responsible for check and grant of production license to the enterprises that manufacture hazardous chemical package materials or containers". 3) Clearly stipulates that the competent industry & information department of the State Council and other relevant departments shall based on their responsibility take charge the plan and layout of hazardous chemicals production and storage industries. 
In view of many links and departments involved in safety management of hazardous chemicals, in order to facilitate relevant departments to fulfill their duties and closely cooperate, the Regulations also clearly stipulate that the people's government at or above county level shall set up a coordination mechanism for supervision & management of hazardous chemicals in order to support and urge relevant department to fulfill its duty, coordinate and address major problems in supervision on safety of hazardous chemicals according to law. Relevant departments shall cooperate closely and strengthen supervision on the safety of hazardous chemicals according to law. 
Question: On what account to establish safe utilization license system for hazardous chemicals? shall all enterprises employing hazardous chemicals obtain the license?
Answer: The existing Regulations have relatively full provisions on safety management system for production and storage of hazardous chemicals, but quite general provisions on safety management system for utilization of hazardous chemicals. Practice shows that the hazard of employing hazardous chemicals in particular utilizing hazardous chemicals for production is no less than production of hazardous chemicals. The accidents in this area account for about 1/4 of all hazardous chemical accidents. To further strengthen safety management of utilization of hazardous chemical at the source, this amendment identifies the license system for safe use of hazardous chemical. 
One thing should make clear is that not all units employing hazardous chemicals need to get safe utilization license of hazardous chemicals. There are many units employing hazardous chemicals with big difference in the amount, use method and hazard degree. Therefore, it is not feasible and necessary for all users to get a license. Therefore, the Regulations identifies or limits the scope of safe use license for hazardous chemicals as the chemical enterprises that employ hazardous chemicals for production with utilization amount at or above the specified amount. This meets the real situation and hits the point. As the specific amount in need of obtaining the license, it is hard to specify in the Regulations due to big difference of various kinds of chemical enterprises, the Regulations authorizes State Administration on Work Safety in cooperation with relevant departments to identify specific amount. 
In view of the fact that some chemical enterprises employing hazardous chemicals for production are manufacturers of hazardous chemicals, these enterprises shall obtain safe production license for hazardous chemicals according to regulations. To avoid more burden due to redundant license, the Regulations clearly stipulate that there is no need for chemical enterprises belonging to hazardous chemicals manufacturers to obtain safe utilization license for hazardous chemicals. 
Question: What amendments and improvements have been made in the Regulations in the management of business safety of hazardous chemicals, will the business license system continue?
Answer: Practice demonstrates that the system and measures of existing Regulations on the safety of hazardous chemicals business are quite feasible. In order to further strengthen safety management of hazardous chemicals business, this amendment based on real situation clearly integrates warehousing business of hazardous chemicals into the category of hazardous chemicals business, which fills in the system gap and meanwhile makes stricter conditions for obtaining business license for hazardous chemicals. 
Business license system for hazardous chemicals will keep on. The differences are that the amended Regulations transfer the license review & approval power to the lower level. This is due to large amount of hazardous chemical business enterprise. If they all apply for the license in government department at province or city level, relevant department will have big burden and it is not convenient for enterprises. Moreover, work safety supervision departments at city and county levels have complete institution, they are able to shoulder the responsibility for release and management of hazardous chemical business license. 
Question: Can the road transport permit for hypertoxic chemicals be applied & obtained in public security institution of the transport source area, is there any clear time limit for the application?
Answer: According to the requirements of existing Regulations, consignor could apply for road permit of hyper-toxic chemicals only in the public security institution of the people's government at county level where is the transport destination. In practice however, the address of many consignors is the starting point of transport, they have to go back and forth to get the permit. To address this problem, the amended Regulations clearly stipulate that consignor may apply for permit in public security institution of the area of starting point of transport (source area). In view of some issues raised by transport companies such as no time limit, relatively long period to apply and get the license in some cases which affect production & operation, the Regulations clearly stipulate the time limit for review & approval by public security institution, the maximum shall not exceed 7 days. 
Question: What kinds of hazardous chemicals are permitted for in-land river shipment, which are not? How to ensure the safety of in-land river shipment of hazardous chemicals?
Answer: Based on the comments & suggestions of all sides, the Regulations establishes a mechanism to identify hazardous chemicals prohibited from in-land river shipment. That is, relevant department of the State Council organizes experts to conduct strict risk assessment based on hazardous characteristics and toxicity mechanism of hazardous chemicals including hypertoxic chemicals. Those hazardous chemicals with relatively stable property in water without relatively big hazard or the product of chemical reaction with water not cause relatively big hazard to water environment, are permitted for in-land river shipment under the condition of adopting strict measures for shipment safety. Most other hypertoxic chemicals and hazardous chemicals not belonging to hypertoxic chemicals but has relatively big hazard on water environment are prohibited from in-land river transport. Ministry of Transport, MEP, Ministry of Industry and Information and State Work Safety Administration take part in identification of the type of hazardous chemicals subject to shipment prohibition. The four departments review hazardous chemicals from different perspective, which is conducive to scientific and appropriate identification of the banning list. The four departments will make it public after confirmation of the banning list. 
When appropriately relax the regulation on in-land river shipment of hazardous chemicals in open waters, corresponding safety measures must be in place to ensure the safety of in-land river shipment of hazardous chemicals. To this end, the Regulations give clear specifications on further enhancement of safety management of in-land river shipment of hazardous chemicals in terms of qualification of shipping company; safety conditions for ships, special dock and berth; shipment method of various kinds of hazardous chemicals, package specifications and safety & protection measures, hanging of warning mark on the ships that transport hazardous chemicals and in and out management of hazardous chemicals.

 

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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