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Hazardous substances compliance system to be evaluated

The chemical management compliance system designed to protect New Zealand and New Zealanders from environmental risks and disasters is being independently evaluated to improve its effectiveness, says the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The compliance system needs refining to ensure risky environmental practices and systems can be managed effectively and promptly, it says.

“Serious environmental incidents involving chemicals and other hazardous substances are fortunately rare,” says EPA Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth. “But when they seem imminent or do occur, compliance and enforcement action under any hazardous substances regulations needs to be swift and sure. Currently that is not the case.”

“That is why the EPA is funding a three-person, technical working group to recommend changes to the hazardous substances compliance and enforcement system.”

“In one recent case, a regulator became locked in lengthy action, exhausting all compliance options available to it under the Act. To take control of the affected site and reduce the risk to people and the environment, three emergencies were declared.”

“Around 85 central and local government agencies, committed to protecting the health and safety of our people and our unique environment, have a role in managing hazardous substance compliance and enforcement,” says Dr Freeth.

“While we know some agencies are well equipped with dedicated compliance teams, we also need to understand what can be done to assist others, where funding and resources can be an issue.”

“Agencies must be supported and able to work with confidence when issues arise. This work is about developing a world class chemical management system designed to keep New Zealand and New Zealanders safe,” Dr Freeth says.

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