ECHA: European Chemicals Agency inaugurated
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was officially opened today by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Günter Verheugen together with Gérard Onesta, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Finnish Prime Matti Vanhanen. Located in Helsinki, ECHA is responsible for managing the implementation of the REACH requirements in relation to the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction processes of chemical substances. ECHA formally began its activities a year ago and its work has been devoted to intensive preparations, including staff recruitment and establishing support structures and procedures. On 1st June 2008 two key processes of REACH entered into operation: Registration of chemicals and pre-registration of the some 30,000 chemicals currently in use (e.g. acids, metals, solvents, surfactants). Manufacturers or importers of chemicals have to pre-register them by 1 December 2008 if they want to continue manufacturing or importing them without interruption. It has been estimated that over 180,000 pre-registration files will be submitted.