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Conducting Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) compliance audits continues to be a necessary tool for gauging the effectiveness of an organization's compliance and governance programs. It is also a key element in conformance to voluntary international environmental or health and safety management system standards. Auditing is also a proactive and visible demonstration to key stakeholders that an organization values identifying compliance issues, risks or hazards and correcting them. Trinity's EHS Performance and Risk Management (EPRM) group as well as its national and international offices have assisted various types of companies and industries throughout the years with audits, gap and risk assessments, or targeted program reviews.

Both federal, state, and authorized regional and local agencies are continuing targeted enforcement and/or national emphasis programs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also released the agency's latest trends both on enforcement cases and penalties as well as the national initiative for electronic disclosures (eDisclosure).

One of the key elements of this eDisclosure process (which includes nine elements) includes systematic discovery, voluntary discovery and independent discovery (by a third-party). All of these involve some form of completing a form of review or auditing, as well as prompt remediation or corrective action, and preventing recurrence which requires oversight. Based on eDisclosure data up to fiscal year 2018, disclosures by major environmental laws include the following: 57 percent under EPCRA, 12 percent under TSCA, 11 percent under CAA, 11 percent under FIFRA, 5 percent under CWA and 4 percent under RCRA.

Trinity's EPRM team have been strategically positioned to provide experienced auditors to review your EHS compliance obligations, and conduct targeted or comprehensive, multimedia compliance audits. Over the years of conducting these audits, we have seen, most recently, the following types of audit issues within organizations.

Air

  • Lack of comprehensive Startup Shutdown Malfunction Plans that address all elements, include adequate inspection, calibration and maintenance of critical systems and automated control systems
  • Lack of refrigerant management unit inventories and logs to include all required records, leak rate calculation documentation, and leak rate thresholds
  • Lack of engine certifications for support engines or potential to emit calculations for determinations of permit applicability

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)

  • Tier I / II - No identification and reporting of Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) or chemicals otherwise listed in the rule above Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQs) or 10,000 lbs. to state and local emergency authorities
  • Tier III TRI - Lack of reporting of regulated (767) chemicals releases specifically listed or above the manufactured / processed threshold of 25,000 lbs. or otherwise used threshold of 10,000 lbs

Clean Water Act (CWA)

  • Site had not determined whether storm water permitting applies to the site or if the site will qualify under no exposure exclusion certification or site operations have not maintained exclusion conditions
  • Under storm water permit conditions site has not established all elements for a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Pollution Prevention team
  • Facilities with waste water discharge (NPDES) permits fail to notify the legal authority having jurisdiction within the required timeframe when permit limit exceedances, bypasses, slugs, spills occur as per permit conditions.
  • Facilities with wastewater discharge (NPDES) permits fail to notify the legal authority following changes in ownership or record delegations of authority for reporting and certifications from a Responsible Official
  • Failure to follow (NPDES) permit terms and conditions including the calibration of flow devices, maintaining testing standards and methods, etc.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)

  • Site has not determined whether it may reasonably discharge an amount of regulated oils harmful to navigable waters and is managing oil quantities over an aggregate 1,320 lbs
  • Site lacks secondary containment for a regulated facility with potential for discharge had not developed effective secondary containment or determined impracticable or use of alternative measures
  • A written plan for regulated facilities does not contain all the required elements
  • Bulk tanks have not been assessed for applicability of tank integrity testing or have not followed plan requirements. Alternatively, equivalent protections have not been implemented for certain tanks.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

  • Determinations for waste generated at the site have not been completed for wastes that may meet the definition of hazardous waste
  • Hazardous waste generators have not determined their monthly generate rate (quantity) of hazardous wastes to apply generator requirements for conditionally exempt (or very small quantity), small quantity, or large quantity generator standards.
  • Hazardous waste or universal waste containers are not labeled or are not kept closed, as required.
  • Small quantity or large quantity generators have not developed an informal or formal contingency plan for hazardous wastes and releases as required. This includes coordination with local emergency response agencies.
  • Failure to label containers, tanks, fill pipes, etc. as “Used Oil” when used to collect used oils

While this list is not comprehensive of all the types of findings possible or found in numerous audits, it provides some trending types of non-compliance issues encountered at many facilities. The audit results, of course, will vary based upon the applicable compliance obligations to each individual organization.

Trinity Consultants helps many organizations with EHS auditing, and many other environmental efforts. For assistance, please contact Trinity at (800) 229-6655 or complete the Contact Us form on our website.