Sinn Féin - On Your Side

REACH will protect lives and workers' health as well as the environment - Sinn Fein MEPs

17 November, 2005

Speaking at the conclusion of the vote on the REACH proposals in the European Parliament today, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún said that, although not as strong as Sinn Féin would wish, the legislation is necessary to protect lives and workers' health as well as the environment.

Mary Lou McDonald said that it is very important to ensure that the most hazardous chemicals, when they are identified, are phased out and replaced by safer alternatives.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"Mary Lou McDonald and I have voted in favour of the proposals today even though they are not as strong as we would like, because we need this legislation that will protect lives and workers' health as well as the environment. We are very pleased that the vote packages agreed by our group along with others on the question of authorisation and duty of care have been approved.

"REACH should be a matter of common sense - of course companies should know what they are doing and be held accountable for their products"

Ms McDonald said:

"Every serious impact assessment of the REACH proposal shows the immense health benefits of a workable chemicals policy and this is in stark contrast to the exaggerated industry calculations. We need to ensure that the most hazardous chemicals, once identified, will be phased out and replaced by safer alternatives. That is why Bairbre de Brún and I voted in favour of the proposals today, even though they fall short of what we would have wished to see.

"Sinn Féin is disappointed with the deal reached by some others on the registration of chemical substances. The challenge was for MEPs to agree a registration package which gathers the information necessary to assess the risks of certain products. With the deal that has now been agreed, the necessary information will not be available.

The Sinn Fein MEPs concluded:

"The regulation of chemicals within the EU must give proper protection for workers, consumers and the environment while at the same time being workable and maintaining the competitiveness of European industry and thereby ensuring jobs. This is why we want a strong REACH regulation. We want a REACH that gives us the information necessary to be able to assess if chemicals are dangerous - even those chemicals produced in low tonnages. We want chemicals legislation with mandatory substitution of the most dangerous chemicals. The burden of proof must be with the companies and not with public authorities. With these principles in place public health and workers' health is best defended." ENDS

Editors Note: These comments came after the proposals for 'Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals' legislation known as the REACH proposals, were voted upon in the European Parliament today. The vote was one of the longest and most complex ever held in the European Parliament.

The legislation, which aims to increase the level of knowledge about chemical substances placed on the market and to ensure substances are used safely at all stages in their lifecycle, will now be the subject of further discussion between the European Parliament and the European Council.

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