On January 18, 2023, South Korea Ministry of Environment announced the results of the Fourth (2020) Statistical Survey on Chemicals showing that 31,600 types and 686.8 million tons of chemical substances were distributed at 37,107 business sites that handle chemical substances. The survey revealed a 19.9% increase in the number of dealers, 7.1% increase in the types of chemicals, and 7.6% (48.61 million tons) increase in the volume of chemicals distributed compared to the Third Statistical Survey on Chemicals conducted in 2018. The increase in the volume of distribution is due to the increase in the volume of manufacturing and imports and the expansion of the scope of the statistical survey. Since the First Statistical Survey on Chemicals in 2014, the Ministry of Environment has been using this statistical survey as a basic data source for responding to and preventing chemical accidents and for safety management at business sites, by grasping the actual status of the types of chemical substances handled in South Korea and the actual status of their manufacture, use, import/export.
The Statistical Survey on Chemicals is conducted in accordance with Article 10, Paragraph 1 of the Chemicals Control Act and Article 4 of the Enforcement Regulations of the Act, as well as the Regulations on Statistical Survey on Chemicals (Ministry of Environment Notification No.2021-62) to assess the types of chemical substances handled in South Korea and their handling status including manufacturing, storage/preservation, use, and import/export, and the results are used as basic data for responding to and preventing chemical accidents and for safety management at business sites. The results this time are based on a survey conducted from June to August 2021 on the volume of chemical substances handled from January to December 2020, targeting business sites that have notified and obtained permission to establish emission facilities in accordance with the Clean Air Conservation Act and the Water Environment Conservation Act, business sites that handle (manufacture, store/preserve, use, import/export) chemical substances, and business sites that handle chemical substances and mixtures that exceed reference value (annual handling volume: 1 ton, hazardous chemicals: 100 kg).
Chemical substances are defined as elements, compounds, and substances obtained by adding artificial reactions to them, as well as substances that are chemically transformed, extracted, or purified from naturally occurring substances. Meanwhile, hazardous chemicals are toxic substances, substances subject to authorization, restricted substances, prohibited substances, and substances requiring preparation for accidents, and other chemical substances that are or may be toxic or hazardous.
The survey included following items.
- General information about the business sites: name, location, type of business, type and size of chemical handling facility, prevention of and response to chemical accidents, etc.
- Status of chemical product handling: product name, intended use, product characteristics (presence/absence of mixed substances, form), incoming/outgoing volumes by product, presence/absence of nanomaterials, status of storage/preservation facilities, etc.
- Information on constituent ingredients and information on holders: constituent ingredients (substance name, CAS No., purity, and content (%)), manufacturing category, information on holders of ingredient descriptions (trade name, address, person in charge, etc.)
The results of the Fourth Statistical Survey on Chemicals are as follows.
- Types of handling: Production, imports, and exports increased by 8.2% (34.89 million tons), 5.6% (18.59 million tons), and 4.1% (4.87 million tons) respectively, compared to 2018.
- Regions: The top three regions of Jeonnam (29.6%), Ulsan (24.4%), and Chungnam (18.8%), where large-scale oil refining and chemical industries are located, accounted for 72.8% (590.89 million tons) of the total manufacture and import volume
- Industrial complexes: In terms of manufacturing and import volume by industrial complex, Yeosu National Industrial Complex (19.5%), Ulsan-Mipo National Industrial Complex (13.7%), Onsan National Industrial Complex (10.4%), Gwangyang (9.1%), and Daesan (8.6%) ranked high.
- Types of industry: Manufacturing of Coke, briquettes and refined petroleum products accounted for 38.8% of total volume of manufacturing and imports, followed by chemicals and chemical products manufacturing (27.6%) and primary metals manufacturing (19.6%).
Meanwhile, hazardous chemicals (about 1413 species) accounted for 9.8% (79.36 million tons) of the total manufactured and imported volume, representing a 2.8% increase over 2018. Carcinogenic substances accounted for 5.2% of the total manufactured and imported volume with 307 species (41.96 million tons), which represents a decrease of 7.9% compared to 2018. Of the 97 substances requiring preparation for accidents, 89 species (43.4 million tons) were handled, accounting for 4.2% increase over 2018.
Details of the survey results can be found on the Comprehensive Information System for Chemical Substances of the National Institute of Chemical Safety.
The original text of this article can be found at the following URL (in Korean).