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We receive many e-mail messages. While our general views and motivation are expressed in the Why section, our response to some are reproduced here.

If you agree, disagree or simply want to express an opinion then drop us a quick e-mail.

Successful? Is Responsible Care successful in Australia?

E McK USA

Yes successful, but.... You may care first care to read the summary.

A full review has been prepared by Brian Rothery of ChemWeb.

An annual meeting of the Responsible Care Leadership Group (RCLG) of the International Council of Chemical Associations, was held in September in Queensland. The RCLG is trying to develop a communications process to improve the flow of information among member associations and the many stake holders including local communities, employees, government agencies and other interested groups.

The stated objective of the Responsible Care meeting was 'to redouble its efforts in expanding and improving the Responsible Care initiative'.

Chairman Dom Bausano said, 'Forty two countries have now adopted the Responsible Care process. ... Approximately, 50 per cent of RCLG members have 6 of the 8 Responsible Care elements being implemented. Several also have independent verification processes in place.' Saying that 'several also have independent verification processes in place' is an admission that the industry still cannot demonstrate to an often disingenuous environmental activist lobby that it is not just self-monitoring but ready to offer itself in true application of the community care principles, which were to be the bedrock of the RCP, to independent certification. Such certification is now possible under both EMAS and ISO 14000.

The real problem is well-known within the industry - to agree or identify a generic approach which each company can customise to its processes, not for every company to have to re-invent all the documentation and controls.

The Australian Conservation Foundation's VP said Responsible Care is "widely perceived to be toothless" for lack of sanctions against failure to perform. (Summit 99)

Safety component slipping? I accessed your pages extensively over the past year and they have been invaluable. More recently you appear to put more effort on industry than safety-related matters.

L A Australia (Feb 1998)

Priorities We monitor site visits and respond to the relative interest. Yes, we are putting more effort into industry and market information in response.

That said, we are sorry that is happening in a way as economics, and safety and the environment are increasingly inter related. One only has to look at the shortcomings of the Coode Island/Point Lillias storage review.

We may comment on some other matters later.

Material Safety Data Sheets "Have you any views on the MSDS in Australia? The quality is variable, the quantity growing and why should we have a dozen MSDS from different suppliers for the same product?".

BM Australia

MSDS - scope for rationalisation In Europe they tend to use the label as the communication tool. In some more litigious countries, the MSDS is becoming a legal document and losing its practical intent for a workplace document. I believe the MSDS should be consolidated to standardised detail for each commodity (there are mechanisms to achieve this) and for a summary MSDS.

Watch this space for a new development!

Pollutant control

"I feel the list of chemicals required for reporting (for the National Pollutant Inventory) is far too limited."

C J Australia

NPI - a question of priorities I suggest the issue is not the identification of chemicals but to inform the community about the risks - the probability of harm. Just listing chemicals is not very helpful and even confusing in our opinion. Australia is not alone, the US has its "Toxic Release Inventory" like our proposed NPI.

The use of a chemical does not necessarily relate to the risk to safety or the environment. Even thereby promoting the use of a less harmful chemical, may in fact increase the risk (perhaps more is required, it may be more volatile and more soluble in water).

Just reporting the use of a chemical may do little more than confuse. A far better approach is to require the identification of risk on a standard basis with periodic auditing. A more meaningful picture is provided.

Coode Island/Point Lillias

"Your review of the Coode Island (Point Lillias) chemical facility failed to recognise the hazards associated with benzene and some of the other chemicals. While it should not be relocated to Point Lillias, the facility can't remain. These chemicals are known to cause cancer."

Ms Y A. Australia And...

I believe that the Victorian population and Federal and State Governments has already wasted a lot of resources. If we the public don't do something about it Point Lillias will just become another one of these wastes.

Anonymous

Misguided inquiry That some of the chemicals have long term (chronic) effects is well known. The inquiry processes, costing well over $10m for taxpayers, took a superficial perspective of health effects and never effectively inquired into the industry's future.

Our commentary simply pointed out the failings of the inquiries. One has to question the chairmanship of the first inquiry and the brief of the second. The relevant industry association too failed in our opinion - they could have saved the chemical industry a lot of time and costs. That and other matters points to a need for major reform.

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