Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Environmental Management Systems Audit Compared To Regulatory Compliance Audits

Recently, there has been an increased interest in conducting “Systems Audits” especially within businesses or agencies already familiar with “Compliance Audits”. In this article, we will compare Systems Auditing to traditional Compliance Auditing.

Compliance auditing tends to be a straight-forward process. Objective evidence is collected to determine the status of compliance relative to specific requirements. Often these will be regulatory requirements, but compliance audits can be conducted relative to company or agency policies or procedures. To conduct a compliance audit, the auditor needs to know what the specific requirements are. Based on documentation review and observations made by the auditor, compliance with these requirements is evaluated.

Compliance auditing tends to develop a “snap-shot” of compliance on the day the audit was conducted. The purpose is to determine whether or not the auditee is in compliance, and not how compliance is attained.

Systems audits extend beyond strict compliance on the day of the audit. Although compliance with requirements is an important factor in a systems audit, providing an indication of system effectiveness, auditing the process leading to compliance is just as important.

For systems audits, the auditor needs to not only understand the specific compliance requirements, but also needs to understand the system the auditee uses to attain compliance. To pass a systems audit, the auditee must be in compliance with requirements and must demonstrate that an effective system is in place and being implemented to continuously be in compliance.

Systems audits will assess the compliance assurance system, and not simply assess the status of compliance on the day of the audit. Because a systems audit requires more intimate knowledge of the systems being used by the auditee, typically a systems auditor will request more information prior to the audit, including documents such as written plans and procedures, training requirements, etc. Often, systems audits will focus on specific areas, rather than being a site-wide assessment.

Systems audits offer a clear advantage beyond compliance audits – they address the underlying processes in place to assure on-going compliance. Systems audits also require a higher level of effort by the auditor and involve a broader range of personnel at a facility.

Caltha LLP provides specialized expertise to clients nationwide in the conducting compliance audits and environmental management systems audits, training internal auditors, and preparing cost-effective compliance management programs.

For further information contact Caltha LLP at
Caltha LLP Website

Thursday, August 6, 2009

WI DNR Environmental Compliance Audit Program

The State of Wisconsin has extended its program to encourage regulated entities within the State to conduct environmental compliance audits and to self-report non compliance issues. The program had been scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2009.

The Environmental Compliance Audit Program (section 299.85) provides enforcement relief to public or private sector regulated facilities if they:
1) Notify the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) at least 30 days in advance of a scheduled environmental compliance audit;
2) Conduct the audit in accordance with WDNR requirements; and
3) Submit the audit report to WDNR within 45 days of completion.

If violations are found during the audit, the audit report would include a plan and schedule for corrective actions.

The WDNR would defer enforcement action for facilities that self report violations and meet their approved plan and schedule to come into compliance.

Caltha LLP provides specialized expertise to clients nationwide in the conducting environmental compliance audits, developing compliance procedures, and preparing cost-effective EH&S compliance management programs.

For further information contact Caltha LLP at
Caltha LLP Website

State SPCC Spill Prevention Requirements vs EPA 40 CFR 112

The requirement for a formal Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan comes from a federal regulation - 40 CFR 112 ("SPCC Rule"). Certain States may have their own requirements for spill prevention and response, which are in addition to the SPCC Rule. States may also have State above ground storage tank rules, "permit by rule", or individual or general tank permitting requirements, which are outside the scope of the SPCC Rule.

Whether or not a site needs to prepare and implement and SPCC Plan, as defined under the SPCC Rule, will depend on oil storage capacity at the site. If the capacity to storage oils exceeds 1,320 gallons, then an SPCC Plan may be required. State requirements may still apply for facilities with less than 1,320 gallons.

Some key considerations include:

  • Oils regulated are not limited to petroleum and fuels - other types of oils, including food oils, hydraulic fluids, etc. may be regulated under SPCC Rules. Additional materials, which might not be regulated as oils may also need to be included to comply with individual State requirements.

  • All containers greater than 55-gallons need to be included (which includes 55-gal drum containers)

  • Although underground storage tanks may be excluded, the types of oil storage goes well beyond fixed abovegound storage tanks; containers regulated under SPCC Rules can include oil-filled equipment (e.g., gear boxes, reservoirs), oil-filled electrical equipment, and mobile tanks.

Compliance with SPCC Rules begins with careful consideration of 40 CFR 112, the additional requirements for the individual State where the site is located, and an in-depth inventory of regulated materials and containers.

[Read more about recent changes to SPCC Rules]

[Read more about State-specific SPCC Plan Templates]

Have a question regarding SPCC Compliance? Click here to email your SPCC questions to Caltha

Caltha LLP provides expert technical support to clients nationwide needing to comply with SPCC Rules and State spill prevention and response planning requirements.

For further information contact Caltha LLP at
Caltha LLP Website