ASTM-E2365 Standard Guide for Environmental Compliance Performance Assessment

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Standard Guide for Environmental Compliance Performance Assessment



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1.1 Overview—This guide is an organized collection of information and series of options for industry, regulators, auditors, consultants and the public, intended to measure compliance with environmental performance standards against established benchmarks. It focuses on compliance with air, water, waste prevention, waste management, and toxic reduction standards for facilities in the United States. While the guide does not recommend a specific course of action, it establishes a tiered framework of essential components, beginning with those standards where a deviation presents the greatest potential public health, environmental, and business risks. In each identified pathway, at each tier or step of analysis, the guide outlines ways to identify compliance options and reduce pollution in iterative steps. The goal in using the guide is to lower environmental, public health and business risks from Tiers 1 and 2 to Tiers 3 and 4, by evaluating the performance standards described in this guide. While this guide provides a simplified framework of explicit steps for users, a qualified professional should conduct detailed, site-specific risk analysis. This guide may act as a starting point for organizations with limited experience in systematic environmental assessment. As facilities develop their specific plan framework, they will find that risk is weighted by more than just a few parameters. For each facility risk is the complex interaction among location, size, history, surrounding community and ecological zones.

1.2 Differences Among Standards—This guide focuses on compliance with environmental performance standards in the United States. As such it includes a unique, risk-based method to analyze specific groups of legal requirements, as well as risk reduction techniques, sometimes called “pollution prevention.”

1.2.1 Use of this guide provides a system to evaluate the relative priority of compliance and pollution prevention activities. Unlike environmental management systems, it provides a framework to triage critical issues, based on consideration of actual risk of harm to public health and the environment.

1.2.2 Environmental regulatory requirements in the United States are administered primarily by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the parallel State and Local Agencies with similar regulatory authority. Certain other Federal regulatory agencies and State and local counter parts may also have legal requirements relating to environmental performance standards. Examples include the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Agriculture (USDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Similar to the ISO 14001:2015 standard, this guide uses the major groups of environmental regulatory standards in the United States for air and water quality, waste management, release prevention, and toxic materials use reduction, in order to organize the compliance analysis framework.

1.2.3 This guide derives general information about regulatory requirements from common elements of Federal, State and local programs, including statutes, regulations, guidance and policies. Since agencies may have overlapping authorities and different emphasis for particular issues such as waste management, the user should consult the applicable program for detailed interpretation of specific requirements in a particular jurisdiction.

1.2.4 Pollution prevention generally refers to source reduction as a preferred option as opposed to other less preferable alternatives, such as, re-use, recycling, treatment, or disposal/release. ISO 14001:2015 Clause 8.1 requires that “consistent with a life cycle perspective”, the organization shall take a number of actions as a part of operational controls and planning activities including establishing controls, determining its environmental requirements for procurement, communicating its relevant environmental requirements as well as considering the need to provide information about potential significant environmental impacts, inter alia. Further, ISO 14001:2015 Clause 9.1.2 explicitly requires that “…organization shall establish, implement, and maintain the process(es) needed to evaluate fulfillment of its compliance obligations…” This guide compliments and supports actions required under ISO 14001:2015 by establishing a well-documented process for environmental compliance performance assessment.

1.2.5 Pollution prevention is a specific term used in United States environmental compliance management programs. The term usually refers to source reduction actions. Unlike the term “prevention of pollution,” which is used in certain international environmental management standards, pollution prevention does not generally include end-of-pipe or top-of-stack control actions.

1.3 Limitations of this Guide—Given the variability of the different types of facilities that may wish to use this guide, and the existence of State and Local regulations that may impose requirements greater than those required by USEPA, it is not possible to address all the relevant standards that might apply to a particular facility. This guide uses generalized language and examples to guide the user. If it is not clear to the user how to apply standards to their specific circumstances, it is recommended that users seek assistance from qualified professionals. An Environmental Regulatory Compliance Audit, such as Practice E2107, may assist a facility with areas of non-compliance and potential liabilities. This can be a starting point for development of facility specific environmental compliance management programs.

1.4 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

Significance and Use

4.1 This guide may be used for environmental compliance performance assessment in the United States in a wide variety of applications and is not particularly limited to one type of user. The following groups of users may find the guide particularly helpful:

4.1.1 Small businesses or enterprises;

4.1.2 Service industries;

4.1.3 Federal, state or local facilities and regulators, including departments of health and fire departments;

4.1.4 Financial and insurance institutions;

4.1.5 Waste managers, including liquid and solid waste haulers, treatment, recycling, disposal and transfer;

4.1.6 Consultants, auditors, inspectors and compliance assistance personnel;

4.1.7 Educational facilities;

4.1.8 Property, buildings and grounds management, including landscaping;

4.1.9 Non-regulatory government agencies, such as the military; and

4.1.10 Specific industrial sectors such as dry cleaners, printers, photo processors, laboratories, health care, and vehicle fueling, maintenance and delivery.

4.2 This guide is intended as a first step in crafting simplified management goals for assessing compliance with a wide variety of multimedia environmental performance standards. The framework describes a process by which the user may categorize current waste management, air quality, water, and release prevention practices in order to manage the risks associated with noncompliance. The technique classifies common environmental performance standards into tiers based on relative risks to human health, the environment and business operations. The tier classifications found in this guide reflect the general requirements of State, Federal and local compliance and enforcement programs. These authorities generally classify groups of similar environmental performance standards according to the significance of any noncompliance within each group of standards.

Note 1: Users in the United States are encouraged to review the EPA’s Audit Policy Program: Frequently Asked Questions (2021)5 for additional guidance on the Agency’s expectations of compliance performance assessments.

4.3 The guide helps the user to realize the benefits of environmental compliance. These benefits may include but not be limited to:

4.3.1 Ability to set priorities for environmental management activities;

4.3.2 Marketing environmental awareness and sensitivity;

4.3.3 Assessing compliance with permits and other requirements;

4.3.4 Risk management, underwriting; loss control and history; premiums and claims;

4.3.5 Liability assessment and qualifications for loans;

4.3.6 Standardization, consistency and certification of facility specific evaluations;

4.3.7 Educating employees, clients and customers;

4.3.8 Generating multi media and cross medium information;

4.3.9 Evaluating vendors; and

4.3.10 Reducing costs and preventing pollution.

4.4 Users may consider various benefits of environmental compliance performance assessment.

4.4.1 This guide is a basic primer on environmental compliance and may serve to introduce the subject for organizations unfamiliar with requirements.

4.4.2 Many government enforcement agencies, fiduciaries and business organizations publish environmental compliance records over the internet. The public will soon have the systematic ability to access environmental compliance information on individual businesses. Therefore, businesses need guidance on how to assess the nature and potential risks of environmental non-compliance, and a programmatic approach for reducing or eliminating those risks through pollution prevention and other proactive management systems.

4.4.3 Reduced operation and maintenance costs and paperwork may be realized through a tiered evaluation of environmental compliance and pollution prevention opportunities.

4.4.4 Compliance may be streamlined and simplified so that all levels in an organization may participate in environmental management.

4.4.5 Some enterprises may be more competitive in the marketplace with improved environmental compliance programs. The State of Minnesota allows small firms with an environmental management system to operate under a flexible air permit. Firms in Indiana with an Environmental Management System are eligible to participate in the state’s Environmental Stewardship Program which provides regulatory flexibility. Firms operating in Wisconsin that develop and implement an environmental management system may be eligible to apply to the Department of Natural Resources Green Tier program. Green Tier can offer eligible companies flexibility in state issued permits and compliance methods. International firms and organizations may have significant competitive advantages through implementation of an environmental management system that conforms to ISO 14001:2015.

4.4.6 Setting priorities can allow planning and evaluation of new environmental requirements.

4.5 This guide establishes a framework of common, environmental risk management requirements in the United States and will allow the user to evaluate the potential level of risk from non-compliance. Compliance requirements would then be evaluated for pollution prevention opportunities in order to continually reduce the risks from non-compliance.

4.6 Noncompliance with Tier 1 Environmental Performance Standards represents the highest risk because Tier 1 Standards prevent, mitigate or respond to imminent hazards for human health or the environment. Tier 2 Standards address areas of significant risk, where noncompliance could result in penalties, primarily for failure to obtain required approval for releases or modifications to the environment. Tier 3 Standards require operation and maintenance of approved controls on releases or modifications to the environment, where repeat noncompliance could represent a risk. Tier 4 Standards represent the lowest direct risk from noncompliance; however, they are still important for documenting environmental management, the details of the compliance record, environmental compliance costs and pollution prevention measurements.

To find similar documents by ASTM Volume:

11.05 (Pesticides and Alternative Control Agents; Environmental Assessment; Hazardous Substances and Oil Spill Response)

To find similar documents by classification:

13.020.10 (Environmental management Including Environmental Management Systems (EMS), certification and audit)

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Publication Date

June 1, 2021

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Page Count

31 pages

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