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Final Chemicals of Mutual Concern Designations Expected in February

The Great Lakes Executive Committee (GLEC) has finalized chemicals of mutual concern (CMC) designations under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), but has not yet announced its final decision. The recommendations include the following eight chemicals: hexachlorobutadiene (HBCD), long-chain perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCA), mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCP). The GLEC is expected to make the final announcement in mid-February.

The practical significance of a CMC designation remains unclear. Some stakeholders appear to believe that a CMC listing means that additional regulation is necessary to manage chemical concentrations in the Great Lakes ecosystem, but others believe that the governments can simply examine the current situation regarding a particular chemical and decide that any risk already is being effectively managed. An inventory of existing chemical management actions is being compiled to assist this evaluation. A draft of the inventory is expected in February 2016.

The Annex 3 subcommittee is planning to evaluate management strategies for two “pilot” substances that have been designated CMCs under the GLWQA. In the pilot studies, the subcommittee will review existing management actions for the two substances in some detail and determine whether additional management action is required. They will look at both voluntary actions and regulatory actions, and may recommend additional voluntary actions when it is believed that voluntary action would effectively manage risk associated with particular chemicals.

Public nominations are open for the next round of CMC nominations, and a new suite of CMC candidates is expected to be identified in Winter/Spring 2016. CGLI’s Chemical Management Work Group is deeply involved in the Annex 3 process and CGLI serves on the Annex 3 Extended Subcommittee.