EU RULES PUT JOBS AT RISK; 3,000 Chemical Workers Face Threat to Future

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Byline: Larry Neild Deputy Business Editor

UP TO 3,000 jobs in chemical plants across Merseyside, Wirral and Cheshire are at risk because of new European safety rules.

Proposed new regulations from the EU will force chemical companies to bear the cost of testing in excess of 30,000 substances.

The Confederation of British Industry will today issue a warning that the move could lead to thousands of jobs being lost to the Far East.

It says a tenth of all jobs in the UK chemical industry could be wipedout.

Merseyside and Cheshire have one of the highest concentr at ions of chemical plants in the UK. The industry is the region 's second biggest employer after engineering, employing 30,000 people.

The proposed EU Chemicals Strategy -kno wn as REACH -will require chemical manufacturers to conduct a safety assessment and to register the substances that they produce. The most hazardous chemicals will need to be authorised.

The aims of the proposed new regulation, which replaces 40 different pieces of legislation, are to increase protection of human health and the en vironment from exposure to chemicals, while at the same time maintaining the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry.

Last night, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce spokesman Stephen Pearse said: ``We have concerns about the proposed EU regulations. …