Understanding the Perspective of the ECHA Enforcement Forum

The European Chemicals Agency’s Enforcement Forum is reviewing the enforceability of the proposed restriction on creosote, a substance derived from wood or coal tar distillation. It has been widely used as an outdoor wood preservative. This analysis brings to light the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC)’s deliberations and recommendations, which have far-reaching implications for regulatory decisions. 

SEAC’s Rationale: A Balancing Act

SEAC’s position on the proposed creosote restriction is based on a meticulous evaluation. This evaluation’s foundation is considering socio-economic impacts, a crucial aspect of any regulatory decision-making process. This assessment draws from various sources, including the Annex XV report and submissions by stakeholders, as well as a comprehensive review of available background information as documented in the Background Document. 

The Verdict: Proposed Creosote Restriction

According to SEAC, implementing a restriction across the entire Union is the best way to reduce the risks associated with Creosote and Creosote-related substances. However, this conclusion is subject to possible alterations to the specifics, as suggested by the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and SEAC. These proposed changes are supported by solid justifications, which enhance the credibility of the opinion.

ECHA Enforcement Forum’s Pioneering Step

The ECHA Enforcement Forum has embarked on an ambitious initiative to enhance transparency within the legislative scope. The forum has made a significant decision to make advice on the enforceability of proposed REACH restrictions publicly accessible through ECHA’s official website. 

Assessing Broad Applicability and Enforcement

The initial advice from the forum centers on limiting the use of creosote and related chemicals in treated wood. The Forum, in its expert assessment, has judged the proposed restriction to have broad application and enforceability. Nonetheless, it suggests specific revisions, including the specification of limit values and clarification of the restriction’s wording. 

The Next Steps: Review and Conclusive Decisions

Please note that the comments and advice given by the ECHA Enforcement Forum are not considered to be final. They will undergo rigorous review by ECHA’s Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) Committees. These assessments are integral to the process, and the advice will be transmitted to the European Commission alongside the Committees’ final judgments. This collaboration aims to assist in reaching conclusive decisions regarding the creosote restriction.

Addressing Health and Environmental Risks

At the heart of the proposed restriction lies the mission to mitigate health and environmental risks associated with the reuse and secondary use of wood treated with creosote and related substances. This is achieved through amendments to entry 31 of Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation. The proposal introduces the concepts of ‘reuse’ and ‘secondary use’ to differentiate between the intended purposes of the treated wood. 

Forum’s Assurance on Enforceability

The ECHA Enforcement Forum strongly confirms that the proposed restriction on creosote is enforceable. It has carefully considered practicality and enforcement costs, offering insights into how regulatory implementation may unfold. The forum’s expertise underscores its confidence in the feasibility of enforcing this critical restriction. 

During the transition from old to new restrictions, there may be ambiguities. The Forum acknowledges potential complexities, particularly regarding the use of “treated woods” already in circulation at the time of the new restriction’s enactment. To mitigate such confusion, the Forum recommends an explicit restriction on using treated wood. This proactive approach aims to facilitate a smooth transition for all stakeholders involved. 


  1. 1. https://echa.europa.eu/-/advice-on-enforceability-on-restricting-creosote-now-available
  2. 2. https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e187fd0b65 

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