Designation ・ Management of Poisonous Substances and Substances under Observation

A poisonous substance refers to chemicals with less than 1㎎/L concentration that can kill more than half of testing fish in toxicity test or chemicals with equivalent or higher skin, eye irritation compared to hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, 10% aqueous solution or phenol・sodium hydroxide・potassium hydroxide, 5% aqueous solution. As from September, 2011, about 625 types including phenol, chloroform, benzene and toluene were designated and announced.

The type and uses of poisonous substance to be imported to Korea should be reported to Korea Chemicals Management Association in advance and those who wish to produce or sell poisonous substances in Korea or such dealing behaviors including use, save, store, transport or sale, need to register poisonous substance business at the district local government. The amount of poisonous substances distributed in 2011 was 32,524,000 tons produced and 6,803,000 tons imported and the number of poisonous substance business reached around 6,800 companies.

The substances under the observation refer to chemicals proved to cause cancer in animal test or chemicals determined to cause cancer by international professional institutes such as International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) or chemicals whose bioconcentration factor in fish is higher than 500. In the late June, 2011, about 64 types including 4,4‘-bisphenol A were designated and those who produced or imported them should report the type, expected amount of production or import and the uses of substance to Korea Chemicals Management Association. However, unlike the poisonous substances, there is no special regulation for business activities.

Extension of Restricted and Prohibited Substances

The Toxic Chemicals Control Act designates and manages the substances of high concern from risk assessment or substances prohibited or restricted by the international organization or agreement to manage highly risk concerned substance. Risk refers to toxicity that substance has as well as impacts to human and environment in the case of exposure. Restricted substance is a substance restricted for use or distribution for certain purposes due to high risk when being used for a special use and prohibited substance is a substance prohibited for all purposes.

Since its membership of the OECD in 1996, Korea had revised the Toxic Chemicals Control Act to accept OECD regulation and changed 'specific poisonous substance' to 'restricted poisonous substance'. Furthermore, the revised Act in 2005 divided substances into 'restricted substance' and 'prohibited substance' for management. 41 types from 45 restricted poisonous substances were totally prohibited and 4 types were prohibited for special purpose only.

In 2008, 2 types of toxic heavy metals, Cadmium and Chromium mixtures; and Trichlorethylene and Tetrachlorothylene had been designated as restricted substance to tighten the chemical substances management. Since the designation of 3 types as prohibited substance in 2006, Talc containing more than 1% of asbestos was designated as a prohibited substance in 2009. Currently, 12 restricted substances and 60 prohibited substances were designated.

The amount of restricted substances produced or used are extremely small as 5,000 tons per year. However, much efforts were made for management in consideration of substances with high risk. In order to manage designated substance, the test method to detect each substance has been established gradually since 2010 and test methods for all 12 restricted substance are expected to be established by 2012. Furthermore, systematic substance designation and management will be performed by investigating the distribution status of restricted substances.

Enforcement of Management of Accident Precaution Substances

About 69 types of substances requiring preparation for accident, which are highly likely to cause accident or serious damage in the case of accident, are designated and managed. Those dealing with more than a certain amount of accident precaution substances need to establish their emergency preparedness plan that includes the labor and composition of safety management organization, emergency response plan when accidents occur, and resident evacuation plan for area expected to be damaged. If there is concern over accident, the emergency action required for danger prevention according to its emergency preparedness plan should be performed and those operators of substances requiring preparation for accident facility within the area designated by enforcement decree such as national industrial complex or free trade area should notify their emergency preparedness plan to residents of the surrounding area in advance.

In addition, the impacts on national health or environment from accident caused by substances requiring preparation for accident or toxic substances are thoroughly investigated to take appropriate actions required for recovery or post management, strengthening post management prepared for accident.

Since substances requiring preparation for accident are regulated to be prepared with emergency preparedness plan but no additional management standard, emergency situations (accident, terrorism) are highly likely to take place at all times. Accordingly, the personal data of visitors to site should be recorded and saved. The 「Toxic Chemicals Control Act」has been revised (enforced on February 2, 2013) to give obligations of reporting and inspection for ones dealing with substances requiring preparation for accident and finally strengthened the management of substances in the case of accident.

Chemical Accident·Terrorism

The Ministry of Environment is responsible for chemical terrorism and also plays a role as a support institute for Central Disaster Response Division (Ministry of Public Administration and Security) in case of spill accident of poisonous substances or substances requiring preparation for accident. To this end, the Ministry establishes and provides data including the physical properties of chemicals or related toxicity for prevention, preparation, response or post management of chemical accident or terrorism and establishes safety plan or inspection for facility dealing with toxic chemicals including substances possibly used for terrorism. It also implements correspondence training or educations response to chemical accident or terrorism for accident personnel including fire fighters or police and performs impact assessment after the accident.

Furthermore, it is operating 'Chemical Accident Response Information System (CARIS)' that provides information including the properties of chemical substance, treating facility, predicted range of substance dispersion, control and resident evacuation know-how for initial response institutions such as fire stations or police to assist effectively and promptly response to accident.

In November, 2005, a practical manual to response to toxic chemicals spill accident (revised in February, 2012) and the 'action manual for field action to toxic chemicals spill accident' (revised in March, 2012) in November, 2006 were published for prompt and effective response to accident when spill accident occurred or highly concerned to be occurred, established more precise response system.

In case serious chemical accidents took place, the Regional Disaster Safety Response Division headed by a governor or mayor, head of district office as the director of division and site command headquarter is composed to conduct site responses and actions required to manage an accident. The head of regional environmental office will install a regional accident resolution headquarter to assist site responses of the local government. When accident is of serious scale, causing serious damage to life and properties and the wide scope of its impact that requires comprehensive responses at the governmental level, the Central Disaster Response Division at the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and Central Accident Resolution Division at the Ministry of Environment will be organized to deploy governmental response activities against disasters.
Also the ministry establishes response system as a responsible institute for chemical terrorism through a 'practical manual to response to chemical terrorism' (revised in February, 2012) which regulates the detailed response procedure and control actions to be applied in case of chemical terrorism. To eradicate manufacturing method of improved explosive device using poisonous substances or its illegal distribution on the internet, a 'cyber watchdog for chemicals' had been organized with 20 internet users (September 28, 2011). While this being operated, about 27 cases of suspicious harmful contents had been removed as from the late 2012 and also the ministry is holding a competition for response capability against chemical terrorism and accidents once every year since 2009.

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

Each country is committed to introduce and promote Globally Harmonized System of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS) at the UN WSSD in 2002 to encourage safe management of chemical substance and break down technical barriers when importing and exporting by harmonizing classification and indication of different chemical substances in each country. In the main ideas, the chemical substances are classified into 16 different categories according to the physical risk and 11 different categories according to the health and environmental risk. It is to indicate according to container and package and also to indicate safety data.

The Ministry of Environment has been promoting research project to introduce GHS in Korea since 2004. In 2008, the ministry has enacted an 「Act on classification standard and indication of poisonous substances」 that regulates classification standard and indication by items for GHS 27 items through collecting opinions from industries and parties concerned. New poisonous substances have been subject to GHS since July, 2008.

For existing single poisonous substances, all announcements were completed on June 17, 2011 and became effective since July, using poisonous substances supporting system to build English, Chinese and Japanese for labeling system. To prepare enforcement on July 1, 2013, the ministry is currently working to establish classification and indication plan.

Last modified : 2013-10-24 20:56

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