Chemical and Material Risk Management Program


National and international chemical regulations can disrupt the availability and use of chemicals and materials needed for national defense. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended in June 2016, provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with new authority to evaluate and address unreasonable risks to human health and the environment from chemical substances and mixtures. As of December 2020, EPA is expediting risk management for five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals and conducting risk evaluations for over 30 chemicals. Internationally, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) implements the European Unionโ€™s (EU) Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation. ECHA regulates hundreds of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)-related chemicals and is evaluating proposals to expand or further restrict the import, manufacturing, and use of many others. Many chemicals identified by EPA and ECHA are used in DoD sustainment activities or in the manufacturing of components for weapons systems and platforms. A collaborative, multi-pronged approach was developed to identify and evaluate potential DoD mission impacts from the regulations by (1) identifying the conditions and usage amount of each chemical; (2) engaging subject matter experts (SMEs) to identify the mission criticality of the chemical uses; (3) engaging with industry to evaluate market impacts; and (4) engaging with EPA to share use information and comment on specific rulemakings.

TSCA, as amended on 22 June 2016 by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, included changes regarding: existing chemicals, new chemicals, confidential business information, source of sustained funding, federal-state partnership, and mercury export and disposal. DoD is mostly concerned with existing chemicals; specifically which existing chemicals EPA will prioritize for risk evaluation and how they will evaluate and regulate them. 

Under REACH, commercial entities โ€“ which place products into commerce โ€“ have the primary direct compliance burden. For DoD, the potential REACH impacts are indirect. Supply chain risks may include: withdrawal of certain DoD-essential products from European (or worldwide) markets, unmonitored product reformulation that does not meet military performance, or a delay or impounding of DoD chemical product supply shipments within the EU. Mission risks may include: unavailable mission critical products, interoperability disconnects with NATO partners, impacts to relations with host nations and communities, and impacts to DoD Foreign Military Sales.

The DoDโ€™s 2016 REACH: A Strategic Plan/or Managing Chemicals, Materials, and Impacts on Readiness protects military readiness by: (1) identifying the strategies and solutions that must be executed to minimize adverse impacts from the REACH regulation; (2) assigning responsibilities for implementation to the appropriate DoD offices and personnel; and (3) requiring the Components to develop a communications framework. The plan’s goals and objectives are designed to: ( 1) protect the availability and use of REACH-regulated, mission-critical substances; (2) ensure the performance of substitute products that are adopted because of REACH; (3) guard against REACH-related disruptions to defense supply chains; (4) minimize impacts to Foreign Military Sales; and (5) develop and implement a REACH communications strategy.