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Archem convicted for supplying unregistered product to remote communities

NRA 99/17 17 December 1999

Archem Australia Ltd was fined $4,000 after pleading guilty to two charges of supply of unregistered product in the Darwin Magistrate's Court on 10 December.

This prosecution follows an enquiry about safe use of product supplied by Archem from a remote Aboriginal community on the island of Millingimbi about the supply of unregistered domestic use insecticides.

During an investigation by inspectors from the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA), it was found that Archem Australia Ltd had supplied unregistered insecticides to communities at Milingimbi in the Arafura Sea and Hermmansburg near Alice Springs.

The products, Archem Insecticide Spray and Archem 1002 Low Toxic Pest Eradicator, contain permethrin which is found in many products used for controlling crawling insects. The supply of this unregistered product breached section 78(1) of the AgVet Code of the Northern Territory.

"This case raised concerns as remote communities often do not have the facilities to determine if the products being supplied are assessed and approved by government authorities," said the NRA's Head of Surveillance and Enforcement, Stephen McDonald said.

"It is the responsibility of suppliers to ensure that everyone, including remote communities, are supplied with registered product and provided with accurate information about the use of pesticides."

"The NRA is responsible for ensuring compliance on agvet products up to and including the point of retail sale and the supply of unregistered pesticides is of considerable concern."

"Unregistered products have not undergone strict scientific assessment to determine the health and environmental impacts that may occur," Stephen McDonald said.

"These products have the potential to pose risks to public health and safety and the environment if not used in accordance with the instructions on the label approved by the NRA."

For interview and further information, please contact:

Steve McDonald, 02 6272 4298, or Helen Weldon, 02 6272 3662

Attachment: Background Information - The NRA's Compliance Program

BACKGROUND - The NRA's Compliance Program

Manufacturers and distributors of agricultural and veterinary chemical products have specific responsibilities under the National Registration Scheme (NRS).

The NRA's National Compliance Program seeks to ensure that these responsibilities are met and that all products on the Australian market satisfy registration requirements of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code (the Agvet Code), related legislation and regulations.

Under the Code, manufacturers must:

have any product requiring registration registered by the NRA; and

use only the NRA approved label on registered products.

Wholesalers and retailers must ensure that any products they supply which need NRA registration also meet these requirements.

Unregistered chemicals have not undergone the rigorous evaluation required by the NRA. They have the potential to endanger users, the broader community and the environment, as well as harm crops and livestock. Australia's reputation as a producer of safe, high quality products may also be compromised on world markets.

The NRA is responsible for ensuring compliance up to and including the point of retail sale. Working closely with state and territory agencies, the NRA helps ensure a seamless overlap of responsibilities for control of use of agvet chemical products.

The NRA's Compliance Program aims to ensure compliance with NRA legislation through a range of risk-managed initiatives using cost efficient, targeted, regulatory and promotional activities. Four key strategies are used to encourage and maintain product compliance with the Code:

Prevention

The NRA undertakes a range of activities to promote greater awareness of the requirements of registration and compliance.

Information and educational material is produced for key stakeholders, including the agvet chemicals industry, wholesalers and retailers, primary industry and the broader public.

Quality facilitation

The quality of chemical products entering the marketplace is all important. To help achieve consistency of quality, the NRA operates a licensing scheme for agvet chemical product manufacturers. It also publishes standards for the composition of agvet chemicals.

The NRA also works with the Australian Customs Service to improve the effectiveness of barrier controls on imports. Only NRA-approved active ingredients or registered products may be imported. Consent to import unapproved or unregistered material may be granted in certain circumstances, such as:

  • research purposes;
  • use under permit;
  • formulation trials; and
  • manufacture for export.

Risk assessment

Risk assessment is carried out using an intelligence analysis system. This enables the NRA to analyse large volumes of information from a number of sources such as industry users, the states and territories and other Commonwealth agencies. It also helps determine priorities for further investigation or other action.

The level of risk posed by a particular non-compliance is an important factor in determining the action NRA surveillance and enforcement officers will take.

The NRA works with other key Commonwealth agencies, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Australian Customs Service and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme. This helps ensure appropriate information on chemicals is shared effectively and that the information base improves the effectiveness of the Compliance Program's risk management procedures.

Surveillance and enforcement

The NRA maintains its own surveillance and enforcement team which operates both independently and in conjunction with other Commonwealth, state and territory investigative bodies. It has the power to search and seize when investigating cases of suspected non-compliance.

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