by Mark Cramer, PE
Just about any facility that takes raw materials to make something has unwanted byproducts in the form of air emissions, residuals in wastewaters, and materials disposed of as solid and sometimes hazardous wastes. Federal, state, and local rules govern handling, management, and control of pollution from these and other “discharges”. Determining which rules and requirements apply and keeping up with the controls, monitoring, testing, and recordkeeping are not always straightforward tasks. Ensuring compliance with the myriad of complex environmental laws and regulations can be time-consuming, costly, and challenging for facility personnel. An environmental compliance audit conducted by an experienced environmental professional can be an effective tool in identifying applicable requirements that may have been overlooked, compliance gaps, and recommendations for improvements.
A third-party environmental compliance audit may be of particular value in the following cases:
- There is not a designated Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) professional within the company responsible for the site;
- There is a designated EHS professional; however, their background is primarily safety such that there is uncertainty about environmental programs; and
- A new EHS person has been assigned not aware of site regulatory history.
The audit is typically initiated with a review of existing environmental permits, plans, compliance reporting/recordkeeping, and communications with agencies that can be provided prior to visiting the site to identify applicable requirements to focus the site visit and evaluation to those program elements specifically applicable to the facility. The onsite portion of the audit then involves further review of available regulatory documentation, visual inspection of operations, and interviews with facility personnel. A report then typically documents the inspection, findings, and recommendations. Findings are often broken out into those that could be a violation and others that are recommended best practices or areas for improvement.
The EI Group, Inc.’s environmental professionals have decades of expertise in facility compliance audits. If you have questions or other facility environmental concerns, please contact Mark Cramer, PE at (919) 459-5229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.