It’s Semi-lockdown day 683 (rules are still in force in parts of the UK, even though England has opened up), and it’s a dry cloudy start for us, although snow has been predicted for later on this morning.
The good news is that the days are getting longer already, with perceptible differences in the mornings and evenings. Spring can’t be far away, although we may be in for some proper winter weather.
Apologies for a longer newsletter than normal, while we deal with the Annex VIII to CLP news.
Annex VIII to CLP being legally binding in UK law
This week’s news has come as a huge surprise. We have been repeatedly informed by both DEFRA and the HSE that Annex VIII was not being brought into UK law on Brexit, so to find out that this has happened, and that NPIS are enforcing it retrospectively, has been a real mix of negative emotions – shock, feeling let down, anger at being lied to, stress over the extra workload etc.
On Wednesday, one of our lovely newsletter readers and members of the Chemical Regulations Self Help Group rang me around 1:30pm to ask whether anyone else had received an email from NPIS about this, as they were now out of compliance, and had been since 1st January 2021. I was well and truly flabbergasted. More news trickled out yesterday, and it has become clear where the problem has occurred.
What we know about the incident itself:
- Doug Leech of CBA has done some research, and has discovered that Annex VIII was accidentally copied across into UK law by the Department of Health and Social Care (who run NPIS, the National Poisons Information Service, where we report Northern Ireland PCNs to, and voluntarily send SDSs for mainland GB). So it’s not DEFRA or the HSE’s fault, nor is it NPIS’s responsibility, as they simply operate their service.
- This means that we have inadvertently implemented Annex VIII into UK law.
- However, on discovering this, the first step seems to have been to comply with the law, rather than challenge it, which is why NPIS were informed, and they in turn have informed their clients who they know are out of compliance. I really feel for the NPIS team, they have been as shocked as the rest of us, as it goes against all expectations, and now they have a massively increased workload with the new mandatory notifications, and no doubt a huge number of queries to deal with too.
- It should be theoretically possible to retract this law to go back to what we were expecting, but I don’t know whether this has even been considered; whether it has been ruled out due to the complexities of the Brexit negotiations; or whether it is just someone trying to cover their tracks in DHSC, with the chemical industry picking up the pieces.
- In the meantime, regardless of whether Annex VIII is rescinded, many companies are currently out of compliance, and have been since 1st January 2021.
What we can do about this:
- For myself, I would like to see Annex VIII removed out of UK law, as this is what we were promised repeatedly. I have written to my MP, and urge you to do the same. For any reader domiciled outside the UK affected by this, please talk to your MP and MEP, and ask them to get your diplomats to speak to the UK Government to have this rescinded.
- Lobbying the government – I would like to see the large chemical trade organisations lobbying for this change to be immediately rescinded. In technical terms, all of the laws brought in under Brexit are managed via Statutory Instruments, so a simple alteration and announcement in Parliament is the way to do it (as far as I am aware)
- Publicise this as widely as possible, and push for Annex VIII to be removed. This is not fair on any of us in the chemical industry; it has been caused by an honest mistake, and there is no point punishing some hapless admin person for an error, the correct thing to do is take the situation back to how it was before, as quickly as possible.
What the new duties are (for anyone who wants to comply as soon as they can, or in case Annex VIII is not overturned):
- All of the Annex VIII requirements are suddenly in UK law, that is
- mandatory Poison Centre Notification
- use of the UFI on the label and as part of the PCN (NPIS have said they’re not sure how a UK UFI will be generated)
- hazardous mixtures with physical and health GHS hazards require PCN (not environmental hazards; not EUH statements only products)
- consumer, professional and industrial mixtures are all required to be notified
- we are not sure if the deadlines in Annex VIII will be the same as for EU-CLP
- Northern Ireland PCNs made by sending your IUCLID6 .i6z file to NPIS will count for the rest of the UK
- The way to notify is the same as Northern Ireland, that is send your IUCLID6 .i6z file via email (or multiples on a memory stick) to firstname.lastname@example.org
- NPIS are updating their industry web pages to cope with these changes, but as of this morning there was simply a holding page, https://www.npis.org/Industry.html
- Notification currently appears to be free, but we haven’t asked NPIS that question
You don’t need to take action if you’ve notified all your hazardous mixtures for Northern Ireland by submitting an i6z file to NPIS. This will be deemed as being notified for the rest of the UK.
You do need to take action if you’ve not notified to Northern Ireland, and have hazardous consumer or professional mixtures. If you have hazardous industrial mixtures, according to the timelines in Annex VIII, you have until 2024 to do this.
Help with this situation
I will be running a free webinar about the whole situation, with what we know (which is likely to change by then), and including a brief demo on how to use the online version of IUCLID6 to make the .i6z file, on Thursday next week at 2pm.
If you’d like to join us, please reply to this email and I’ll send you the zoom link (I’m out of the office from around 11am today, so I may respond on Monday).
Webinar spaces are on a first-come, first served basis, although if we get to the Zoom limit, priority will be given to people with direct responsibility for making PCNs.
The recording will be available for attendees and also people who can’t attend, so if you just want access to the recording, let me know and I’ll email it to you afterwards.
There is a fascinating article in this week’s Chemistry World about Metallic Water, which ahs been created in the lab for the first time (or at least observed for the first time) https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/first-fleeting-glimpse-of-metallic-water/4014093.article, and a little digging brings up a couple of other really interesting articles on water:
- Water in two liquid states; https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/direct-evidence-emerges-for-the-existence-of-two-forms-of-liquid-water/4015144.article
- Water as two liquids? https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/the-weirdness-of-water/4011260.article
If, like me, you’re dealing with a lot of regulatory work at the moment, where the regulators often think that there is some kind of “magic chemicals tree” we can use to find non-hazardous substitutes for useful, well-understood hazardous chemicals, it’s good to be reminded of how much we simply don’t understand about chemistry and the natural world.
Keeping an Eye on ECHA (and the EU)
While we’ve all been worrying about the Annex VIII situation here in the UK, ECHA have brought out a consultation on Authorising 8 substances, specifically a request for information. Their news release is here: https://echa.europa.eu/-/do-you-have-information-on-uses-of-eight-substances-proposed-for-authorisation-
The substances are:
- 2-(4-tert-butylbenzyl)propionaldehyde and its individual stereoisomers
- Diisohexyl phthalate
- Orthoboric acid, sodium salt
There are more details, including the “typical” proposed authorised uses here: https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/0/annex_xiv_recommendation_en.pdf/58093b71-c03b-30ab-76f1-67525c2de48a?t=1643798118878.
I was interested to see that under Lead, we have batteries production and soldering given as two of the uses. Given the massive proposed increase in electrical power, is it sensible to be making battery production even more expensive and bureaucratic?
As usual, please comment if you are able to and have information about why these Authorisations should or should not proceed, even if you are based in the UK, as these proposals will be considered by HSE as part of the way in which REACH is currently implemented into UK law.
Jobs update (UK stats from LinkedIn)
Regulatory affairs jobs: 2,635; Health and Safety jobs 71,335 . Both these figures are slightly higher than last week.
Arkema/ Sartomer are hiring a Product Stewardship Manager. Helen Morris writes: If you are interested, contact me directly and I can provide a job description and answer any questions you may have, on email@example.com .
Stephenson Group are seeking a Product Development Chemist https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/collections/recommended/?currentJobId=2902711735
Innospec are looking for a Personal Care Formulation Chemist https://www.linkedin.com/posts/sophie-malaval-7a163810b_we-are-hiring-activity-6894310032419471361-Tsia
Airedale Chemicals have various Warehouse Operatives roles available (shift work): https://www.linkedin.com/posts/airedale-chemical-co-ltd_wed-love-to-hear-from-anyone-interested-activity-6895034015410110464-HnbA
Process Safety Corner
- one person killed, another injured at a building products factory in Illinois, USA: https://www.thechemicalengineer.com/news/one-killed-and-one-critically-injured-after-explosion-at-facility-in-illinois-us/
- massive oil tanker explosion off the coast of Nigeria (no deaths reported): https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ugcPost-6895012173249400832-gsIh
- Ammonium nitrate fire in North Carolina, https://edition.cnn.com/2022/02/01/us/winston-salem-fertilizer-plant-fire/index.html (no deaths as far as I can tell)
- Startup problems causing fire and chlorine release https://www.linkedin.com/posts/george-mickiewicz-a7799746_ruptured-valve-caused-fire-chlorine-release-activity-6893159665493241856-hy8a
You could also class the Annex VIII to CLP fiasco as a recent incident, it would certainly be interesting to do a no-fault investigation. To me, the problem isn’t so much with the fact that it was brought in accidentally – it’s whoever has decided not to take it back out again.
A reminder that packages in transit need to be secured: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/carlo-corti_cordstrap-cargo-containershipping-activity-6894399514661199872-dLPA
A thoughtful article from Ben Hutchinson on how we “normalise” near misses, instead of taking action to prevent them, specifically referencing the Kings Cross Fire https://www.linkedin.com/posts/benhutchinson2_in-1987-a-fire-ripped-through-the-kings-activity-6895132094037680128-MsWb.
And an insight from a psychologist work contemplating: “Safety is a by-product of doing work well and reliably”, more at https://www.linkedin.com/posts/clive-f-lloyd-3a3727a_safety-is-a-by-product-of-doing-work-well-activity-6893694650935328768-mi1d
Trade – UK exporters can claim a grant
Lydia Moi of DIT has announced a £9k internationalisation grant, see https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6894941885665001472/
The Weekend Read
A great visual image on man’s place in the solar system from Tim Doggett of CBA: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tim-doggett-fcilt-aa7450156_this-literally-put-things-into-perspective-activity-6895110608451121152-xYwx.
And a really interesting read on “profit before patient safety and health”, this one is on the use of steroids in gyms, https://www.processindustryinformer.com/profit-before-patient-safety-and-health .
The Weekend Recipe
We may be well past Christmas, but there can sometimes be food lurking at the back of the fridge, like some cheeses. A few years ago, I ended up with an uneaten head of celery and the rinds from a piece of Stilton, and my Stilton and celery soup was born.
Stilton and celery soup
- Celery, half a head to a head
- Chicken or vegetable stock (can be from a stock cube)
- Stilton rind or inner
- Plain flour
- Salt and pepper
First have you got ready or make up some stock from a cube or two. You will need at least a pint and perhaps more. I use Oxo cubes in the ratio of 1 to half a pint of boiling water. Other stock cubes and forms of stock are available.
Chop the celery into half an inch/ 1 cm chunks, taking care to cut across the stalks to avoid long strings. You can chop up any leaves as well as they are quite strongly flavoured and can be used almost like a herb.
Then chop a white onion roughly so you have about 1/4 of the volume of onion to the volume of salary. Any excess onion can be stored in the freezer, or you could use pre-frozen onion which you have prepared earlier. (Although you do need to use a bit more frozen onion than fresh because of the weight of water in the frozen onion. We keep frozen chopped onion in a plastic box in the freezer, it’s easier than storing it in a plastic bag. You can freeze food made from this frozen onion, as long as you cook it before refreezing).
Melt about an ounce of butter in a large pan over a low heat, and gently fry the celery and onion together in the butter until softened. For this soup, I don’t want the onion to brown but it is a matter of personal taste. Then sprinkle about an ounce of flour over the veg and stir into the mixture so the butter absorbs the flour. Stir and cook the flour for a minute or so, then add the stock gradually, stirring as you go. Finally add some milk, as you’re making a cream of celery soup. The best amount is between half the volume and one volume of the stock. You don’t want too much milk as it will froth up too much.
Simmer the simmer the soup for about half an hour until all the vegetables are really softened. Stir occasionally to make sure the flour doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. If you have a stick blender you can blend the contents of the pan up straight away.
Otherwise, take the soup off the stove and cool in a water bath for five or 10 minutes. (Make this by pouring cold water into your washing up bowl or sink, and place the pan directly in it). The soup doesn’t have to be perfectly cool, just cool enough to put in your blender. Blend in batches until smooth, although you may find you need to add extra stock at this stage because the mixture may turn into a puree. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, you will have to pass it through a sieve, like our grannies used to (think of it like an arm or upper body workout!).
Once you have the soup texture the way you like it (which should be smooth and velvety, regardless of how thin or thick it is), pour it back into the pan bring back to the boil for a couple of minutes. If you like, you can stop at stage because you’ve made cream of celery soup. otherwise, add small chunks of the Stilton rind and or the Stilton cheese itself and melt them into the hot soup. be careful not to add too much Stilton you are looking for a balance between the sweetness of the celery and the tanginess of the cheese. Once the cheese has added you can warm the soup but it is better not to re boil it.
Serve straight away with bread and butter or homemade cheese scones. This soup freezes well and it needs to be brought to the boil before serving.
Top tips: don’t make the celery soup too salty because there is plenty in the Stilton. You can omit the flour and bother with making a roux, but watch out for excess butter in the finished soup. We store our soup in the freezer in old soft butter tubs.
Reasons to be cheerful
I thought a couple of cheerful songs might be nice this week – Raindrops keep fallin on my head, BJ Thomas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hziG9Nr6KHU ; and Because I’m happy, Pharrell Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbZSe6N_BXs .
Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter this week. As usual, if you have anything you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll do my best to include it in the next newsletter.
I hope you have a good day today and a lovely weekend with your family and friends. Take care, stay safe and I hope to be able to write to you next week.
TT Environmental Ltd
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