February 28, 2019: After three years’ work trying to overturn a European Commission proposal to ban four lead compounds that are indispensable to making a lead battery, the ILA and EUROBAT this week claimed success in persuading regulators to drop the action — for now.
The REACH committee, the regulatory body affiliated to the European Chemicals Agency, has met several times to discuss whether the compounds lead monoxide, lead tetraoxide, tetralead trioxide sulphate and pentalead tetraoxide sulphate should be added to a candidate list, which could have led to their requiring special authorization before being used — potentially causing a devastating impact on the European lead battery industry.
But now the EC is advising the compounds should not be added, at least in the immediate term. “We understand the EC advises not to include the lead compounds on the REACH list and the member states will vote on this, probably in April,” said Gert Meylemans, senior manager communications with EUROBAT.
“There are two reasons why we think the decision has been made to postpone — butit’s not a guarantee for ever — adding the compounds to the list,” said Steve Binks, director of regulatory affairs with the ILA (pictured).
“One is the work that the ILA and EUROBAT have done with the regulators on the value of the lead battery industry to the European economy and the risks that authorization would bring to that.
“The second is that the four lead compounds are only used in lead battery manufacturing and they think it’s more proportionate to progress with the issue of workplace exposure rather than risk the whole European lead battery industry.
“It’s a success for EUROBAT members and the ILA and the whole industry. Once you’re in the process of authorization you’re in the hands of the regulators, and if the compounds actually went into authorization it would be tantamount to a ban.”
As EUROBAT launched its battery-agnostic manifesto in Brussels last week, the organization jointly presented a campaign with the ILA to promote lead batteries.
Charge the Future aims to persuade the EU of the role of lead batteries in helping to achieve a level playing field for all battery chemistries.
Speaking at the manifesto launch, EUROBAT president Hannes Dempwolff said lead batteries were a critical battery technology.
“Advanced lead battery technology is not just important today, it is vital to meeting Europe’s growing demand for sustainable energy storage,” he said.
“And it is an industry which is a true European success story, it’s part of an extended EU-based value chain.”