The Chemicals Act 2008 (No 13 of 2008) came into operation on 15 July 2008 through the Chemicals Act 2008 (Commencement) Order 2008 (S.I. No. 273). This Act was amended by the Chemicals (Amendment) Act 2010, which came into operation on the 10 December 2010 under the Chemicals Act 2010 (Commencement) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 591). Both Acts can be read as the Chemicals Acts 2008 and 2010.
The main purpose of the 2008 and 2010 Acts is to facilitate the enforcement of certain EU Regulations concerning chemicals. These Regulations include the:
- Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (No. 1907/2006) ),
- Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP) Regulation (No. 1272/2008)
- Rotterdam Regulation (No. 689/2008) concerning the export and import of dangerous chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention, and the
- Detergents Regulation (No. 648/2004).
The provisions of these EU Regulations are directly applicable in Ireland. That means they must be complied with by the dates set out in the Regulations and cannot be changed by this implementing legislation. Each Regulation must be viewed in turn so as to determine the level of responsibilities of each duty holder. Therefore, the provisions of the 2008 Act, which were amended by the 2010 Act relate only to the measures necessary for the administration and enforcement of the Regulations. Section 30 of the 2008 Act (as amended by Section 10 of the 2010 Act) set out the penalty provisions for breaches of the legislation.
The Acts also provide for the making of supplementary Regulations as well as Regulations to transpose the so called “Seveso III” Directive on the Control of Major Accident Hazards involving Dangerous Substances. The Acts also set out the national authorities that will enforce the EU Regulations and provides for cooperation between national authorities and authorities of other EU member states.
Chemicals Act (Control of Major Accident Hazards involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 209 of 2015) came into effect on 1 June 2015. The purpose of these Regulations, which have been made under the Chemical Acts 2008 and 2010, is to transpose “Directive 2012/18/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directive 96/82/EC” (which is known for convenience as the SEVESO III Directive). They also make a number of consequential amendments necessitated by the transposition of Directive 2012/18/EU to the Chemical Acts 2008 and 2010, which are set out in Regulation 6.
The Regulations replace with effect from 1 June 2015-
(i) the European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 74 of 2006), and
(ii) the European Union (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 571 of 2013).
The latter Regulations have formally been repealed by a separate statutory instrument made under the European Communities Act 1972, as amended.]
Chemicals (Asbestos Articles) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 248 of 2011) came into operation on 31 May, 2011, specify how the Health and Safety Authority may issue a certificate to exempt an asbestos-containing article, or category of such articles, from the prohibition on the placing on the market of an asbestos-containing article provided for by Article 67 and Annex XVII of the EU REACH Regulation 1907/2006.
The Regulations set down the procedures for applying for an exemption certificate and the process by which the HSA will make its decision to grant or refuse such a certificate application. There is also a procedure whereby the Health and Safety Authority can revoke any decision to grant an exemption certificate and an appeals procedure whereby decisions of the Health and Safety Authority under these Regulations can be appealed to an appeals officer.
The Chemicals Act (CLP Regulation) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 102 of 2011) came into operation on 2 March 2011, and designates the English language as the language for the purposes of labelling of hazardous chemicals.
The Chemicals Act 2008 (Rotterdam Regulation) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 213 of 2019) came into operation on 17 May 2019 and brings the 2012 EU Rotterdam Regulation under the Chemicals Act enforcement framework by amending the reference to the EU Rotterdam Regulation in the definition of “chemical” in the 2008 Act (as amended by the 2010 Act).