PARIS – A top France administrator has agreed to a set enforcement laws, which include tough sanctions for companies found to commit serious offenses under the REACH regulations.

France Secretary of State for Ecology Chantal Jouanno said offenses such as failure to stop using a banned substance or failure to register a substance will be deemed criminal, with penalties up to and including fines and imprisonment.

The final sanctions that will be handed down to companies are still to be revealed in the final text, which will be published in the French Official Journal. However, earlier drafts of the law suggested a maximum prison sentence of two years or a maximum fine of €75,000.

These sanctions appear to be in line with the UK REACH enforcement regulations, which took effect Dec. 1 and provide for a maximum penalty on conviction on indictment of a fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both.

Similar to the French enforcement regulations, penalties for breaching the substance restrictions in Article 67 of REACH go into effect June 1, 2009.

REACH enforcement is carried out through Member State regulations and is coordinated across Europe by the ECHA Forum for Exchange for Information on Enforcement. All Member States were required to brief the European Commission by Dec.1 on the penalties set through their national regulations. REACH requires the enforcement activities to be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.”

In 2001, Netherlands officials, acting on a competitor's tip, seized a reported 1.3 million Sony PlayStation1 units and 800,000 accessories with a market value of $162 million. The units were reported to have had 20 times the levels of cadmium permitted under Dutch regulations, and Sony spent a reported $110 million replacing the affected parts.
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