NEW STANDARDS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITS
In April 1994 the Canadian Standards Association issued their new Standard Z768-94, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA). The Standard has been developed to assist clients and asessors to plan, implement and interpret the results of the environmental assesment reports dealing with their sites or facilities.
This standard uses as a source document ASTM Standard E1527-94, Standard Practice of Environmental Site Assessments; Phase I, Environmental Site Assessment Process. This means that multi national clients who audit to CSA Z768-94 in Canada are assured of receiving an environmental assessment of their properties which is comparable to those carried out in accorance with ASTM E1527 in the United States. This is important to ensure consistent reporting which ensures both the reliability of financial results and carries out the due diligence obligations of directors and officers particularily when an acquisition or divestiture is involved.
The purpose of CSAs Voluntary Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Environmental Auditing Guideliens is to encourage organizations to consider the environment when making business decisions. These guidelines offer guidance on such matters as;
environmental auditing principals and practices;
environmental site assessments;
life cycle assessment and design for the environment;
risk assessment and management;
emergency planning, prevention and response;
stake holder/community consultation;
environmentally responsible product stewardship;
environmental corporate reporting and performance evaluation.
Of these, the following CSA standards are now available:
Z751 Guidelines for Environmental Auditing; Statements of Principal and Practicies.
Z760, Environmental Life Cycle Assessment Part II; Life Cycle Review
Z761, Guideline on Environmental Labeling.
The rest of the world is playing catchup to Canada. ISO standards are universal and are arrived at that by consensus. They are not really based on Ruwanda levels; they only seem that way. The earliest some of these will be available in 1996.
The ECO Management and Audit Shcemem (EMAS) standards are the basic European Economic Community standards which are being developed in parallel to ISO and U.S., Canadian standards. However, they are not likely to be in a recognizable, usable form for at least another two years. Canadas standard is recognized as being among the highest standards and will enjoy world wide acceptance.
The world of environment is changing just as the rest of the world around us is changing and those who are involved in it, whether as a client or as an auditor/assessor must change with it by conforming to the new standards. At the same time, each client who is purchasing an audit or assessment should be familiar with the terminology means, and the requirements to be able to limit the scope of the assessment and achieve a satisfactory cost control. For example, in CSA Z768 under Section 7.2, Mandatory Records Review, there is a list of 7 major items which need o be reviewed. These include aerial photographs, property use records, prior ESA reports, titles search, company records, geological reports, regulatory information. Each of these is invaluable, but keeping in mind that the object of the assessment is to establish the likelihood of contamination of a small commercial property, some discretion has to be used in choosing the number to be consulted.
Walters Consulting Corporation welcomes the increasing professionalism of the environmental auditors and participates in the Canadian Environmental Auditing Association, lending its time and effort on various committees. When there are any questions concerning these new standards we will be pleased to discuss them with interested parties on a no charge basis.
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Walters Forensic Engineering | 277 Wellington
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