The Legislative Yuan adopted the renaming of the Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act to the Toxic and Publicly Concerning Chemical Substances Control Act (hereinafter, the “Act”) and amended its entire provisions during the 14th Meeting of the 6th Session of the 9th Term on December 21, 2018. Besides Articles 7, 54, 65, 67 and 72 of the Act which entered into effect on the date of promulgation, all other provisions shall be implemented one year after their promulgation. The amendments are highlighted below.
The amendments add chemical substances that are currently in the public awareness as harmful. This means that for the competent authority may announce pursuant to Article 24 of the Act that it will be regulating certain non-toxic chemical substances, expand the capacity of the Environmental Protection Administration to regulate chemical substances at a source level and conduct tiered administration based on the different properties of the substance involved, where the lowest level shall only require labeling, while more advanced levels require, pursuant to the amended Article 8 of the Act, submission to the competent authority for approval and recordation. In case of an incident requiring a change in considerations, the relevant operators are required to submit their hazard prevention and contingency plans to their local authorities for reference and to make available such plans on their websites to the public. In addition, they would also be obligated to set up relevant emergency equipment and report incidents.
The incident reporting deadline for operators is shortened. Article 41 of the Act as amended shortens the deadline for reporting an incident to 30 minutes, as well as the criteria for making the report. If the resulting pollution may impact the neighboring environment of the plant, the operator is required to report the incident in an effort to increase the operator’s responsibilities and provide more response time for local environmental agencies.
The sale and transfer of toxic and publicly concerning chemical substances are restricted. Article 60 of the Act as amended prohibits the sale or transfer of regulated toxic substances or other chemicals in the public concern through mail order, e-commerce or other means in which the parties are not identifiable. For Internet shopping platform operators, failure to fulfill its management responsibility by brokering two unlicensed parties to engage in such transactions shall be subject to a fine of NT$60,000 to NT$300,000, which may be imposed continuously.
The amended Article 7 of the Act sets up a national chemical substances administration conference for coordination between government ministries on the risk assessment and regulatory measures for chemical substances, which will promote the efficacy of integration.
Lastly, operating fees are collected to set up a toxic and chemical substances fund. Under Articles 47 through 49 of the Law as amended, the Environmental Protection Administration may collect operating fees from operators engaged in the handling of toxic and publicly concerning chemical substances to set up a toxic and chemical substances fund, which will help in reducing the operators’ costs for handling emergency incidents. In addition, the collection of operating fees will first target operators who handle highly hazardous substances that could impact a large area for a significant amount of time so as to ensure sustainable environmental safety.