EPA Welcomes Revised Solvents Regulations and Decorative Paints Regulations

Date released: Feb 07 2013

Revised regulations on decorative paints and solvents were published on January 1st 2013. Re-sprayers and dry cleaners are required by law to register with their local authority, and have their premises inspected to ensure that they use appropriate products, dispose of waste in an appropriate manner and take measures to protect the environment.

Commenting on the new Regulations Dr. Ian Marnane of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:

“The re-spraying of cars and dry cleaning activities are regulated to minimise harmful effects on our environment and health. Car paint and dry cleaning raw materials contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which can evaporate into our atmosphere, even at room temperature. This can cause respiratory illness and have potentially harmful effects on our environment.”

The new law will address some of the concerns of the regulated community and will also provide greater powers to local authorities to enforce the regulations. All existing operators are urged to ensure that they renew their certificates in advance of their expiry date.

Dr. Ian Marnane continued:

“It is important that people support certified vehicle refinishers and dry cleaners in their area. These businesses have made the appropriate investment to ensure that harmful solvents are controlled and prevented from causing environmental damage.”

The EPA is now responsible for the appointment of a panel of approved assessors who will carry out the assessment of compliance with the regulations at relevant installations. , This panel is required to be in place by September 30th 2013. In the interim, the EPA has appointed an assessor (details of this assessor can be found on the EPA web pages for Decorative Paints and Solvents and operators are obliged to continue to hold up-to-date certification during the interim period.

Further updates on the development of the panel of inspection bodies will be publicised over the coming weeks through revisions to the existing EPA websites for these Decorative Paints regulations and Solvents Regulations.  Those interested in progress towards implementing the new regulations should regularly check these websites.

Notes to the Editor:

The main changes in the revised regulations are as follows:

  • In the previous regulations the bodies authorised for carrying out the assessments at vehicle refinishing and solvents regulations operators were accredited by the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB).  Accreditation by INAB is no longer required. Instead, the EPA is responsible for the establishment of a panel of inspection bodies. The regulations require the establishment of this panel by September 30th 2013. The EPA will shortly make a decision as to how the panel will be established and this will be communicated to all relevant parties. In the interim period the regulations allow the EPA to appoint an interim assessor to carry out inspection up to September 30th 2013.
  • The panel of assessors shall be reviewed at least once every three years. In practice this means that the appointment of a person to the panel of assessors will be liable for renewal every three years.
  • The initial application fee to the EPA for appointment as approved assessors is €500.  An annual fee of €200 is also payable. These fees are to cover the EPA administration requirements for approval and auditing of approved assessors. Additional fees may also be applicable where necessary, e.g. fees related to attendance at any relevant courses/training which may be designated as minimum requirements for applicants.
  • The initial application fee payable by operators to their local authority has increased from €50 to €70. The renewal application fee is €50. Where an operator does not renew their certification prior to the expiry date they must apply for a new certificate.
  • A certificate of compliance may be issued for a period of up to three years under both the solvents and decorative paints regulations. This is at the discretion of the local authority. The EPA will be recommending a shorter period of certification for first time certificates issued to operators, or where operators have been found to be non-compliant with the regulations.  The full three year period will be recommended for those operators who have remained compliant with the regulations over recent years. Operators who have avoided certification and continued to operate illegally over recent years are likely to receive a shorter initial period of certification.
  • Specific provision is included in the regulations for a local authority to revoke a certificate of compliance where they have reasonable grounds to do so. The local authority can also include specific conditions within the certificate where required.
  • Operators are required to submit information annually to their local authority to report on their compliance with the regulations.
  • Where operators are due to undergo recertification before September 30th 2013 they are incentivised to do so under the regulations with the provision to allow local authorities to issue a certificate which extends to 30th September 2016.  For example, if a certificate is due to expire on April 30th, the operator must apply for renewal of the certificate. The renewed certificate can then be extended to expire on 30th September 2016. The EPA will be advising local authorities to issue shorter certificates where operators wait for the new panel of approved assessors and allow their certificates to lapse.
  • The regulations provide for authorised officers to enter premises with the assistance of the Garda Siochana where necessary.
  • The regulations oblige local authorities to publish details of registered operators on their website.
  • Local authorities have the power to seize prohibited paints, varnishes and vehicle refinishing products and the cost for disposal of such products can be charged to the person or body from whom they were seized;
  • the fine for uncertified operators is being increased from €3,000 to €5,000; and
  • fines may be made payable to the local authority.

Revised regulations on decorative paints:
Limitation of Volatile Organic Compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain paints, varnishes and vehicle refinishing products regulations 2007. S.I. No.  199 of 2007 is replaced by S.I. No. 564 of 2012 – European Union (Paints, Varnishes, Vehicle Refinishing Products and Activities) Regulations 2012.  S.I. No. 564 of 2012.

Revised regulations on solvents:
Emissions of volatile organic compounds from organic solvents regulations 2002, S.I. No. 543 of 2002 is replaced by S.I. No. 565 of 2012 – European Union (Installations and Activities Using Organic Solvents) Regulations 2012. S.I. No. 165 of 2010 is also revoked. S.I. No. 186 of 2012 is also revoked.