IHS Chemical Week


ECHA: More Diplomacy Required (update)

2:40 AM MDT | April 14, 2009 | By ALEX SCOTT

The European Chemicals Agency (Helsinki) announced earlier this week that it has officially opened two conference rooms at its Helsinki headquarters. It has named one of the meeting rooms after Margot Wallström, the v.p. to the European Commission and architect of the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) program. It has named the other room after Guido Sacconi, the member of the European Parliament who is lead rapporteur for the parliament’s negotiations on Reach. Sacconi in the past few days jointly published a list of 306 chemicals that he considers to be of “very high concern” that he wants to have restricted under Reach’s Authorisation procedure.


At a time when ECHA is relying on the goodwill of thousands of chemical companies to provide data on thousands of chemicals it strikes me that ECHA might have shown a little more diplomacy and named one of the rooms after a Nobel Laureate chemist, or a famous historical figure of chemistry.


In almost all cases chemists and chemical companies aren’t careless plotters manufacturing chemicals for money at any cost to human health and the environment. Most have good intentions. Most want a better world. This is not about the good guys (Echa?) v the bad guys (the chemical industry?). Industry and regulators need to work together to make this a better world.


ECHA has missed a diplomatic trick here. You could say that it has committed a diplomatic blunder. With a chemical industry already frustrated by the administrative burden of Reach, and the relatively high costs in a world of economic recession, it would have been the moment to acknowledge a sector that is also striving to do good.

For the record, I might have named one of the rooms after Marie Curie, Nobel Laureate for Chemistry in 1911, in recognition of her advancement of knowledge relating to radioactive particles and the benefits accrued to medical science.

Who would you have picked?

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