Take a sample

Self-monitoring is one of those things the Environment Agency has picked at for a long time but it's still a surprise to see a full-blown scheme to expand it in the air.

The Agency has chosen to roll out its new Operator Monitoring Assessment (DMA) system on monitoring air emissions from industrial processes regulated under Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) - one of its toughest regulatory tasks.

"We chose it first as the most difficult to do,"says the Agency's OMA manager, Paul Wiggins. "It has the greatest variety and complexity and itmakes sense to start with it."

Under OMA, the Agency will assess the self monitoring of air emissions that operators and their contractors carry out and, on the basis of this audit,decide what priority to give check monitoring of the site. Plainly this provides operators with an incentive to do the job properly; do it well and the lightest of regulatory touches will be placed upon them, do badly and the onerous hand of the regulator will lie heavy.

The scheme was finalised last November and trials and audits are now well underway. A review
of progress so far is in progress and the Agency hopes to have all 1800 IPC processes in England and Wales audited by the Spring of 2003.

Initial feedback has been very positive and akey message was that managers want to know what
the audit is likely to produce, so they can prepare.
Accordingly the Guidance, available on theAgency's website, takes operators through the
minutiae of the audit process and enables them tomake at least a start on implementing the sort ofadjustments that will improve their audit score.
"Get the document, have a look and runthrough it," advises Paul Wiggins.
The first time round, the Agency's auditors arelikely to find more than operators themselves, butthere are still things operators are likely to find in
advance. Common examples are inappropriatelocations for sampling devices, a need for improvedstaff understanding and the standards of outsidecontractors. Getting it right before the auditorsarrive can save time and money.
This view is shared by the industry body, theSource Testing Association, which strongly supportsOMA. It too has picked up on the issue ofinappropriate sampling locations and with equipmentweighing up to 50kg, the risks are obvious.
"Most of them are in the wrong place, the wrongsize and are dangerous," says STA administratorDave Curtis. "Even with new processes, they don'tput them in the right place and the people whoproduce the processes don't give the right advice. Ifyou have the sampling ports in the right place withthe right size platforms, you get a better result and
it's much safer."
"The biggest source of error is not usually theequipment but the people operating it," said oneindustry practitioner. Here too, the new regulatoryregime will help. The Agency's MCERTS schemeand the new IPPC system will require accreditationfor personnel and equipment.
The Agency is pleased with OMA's reception sofar and is organising seminars and briefings forthose involved. Those industries which score well inaudits can expect a big reduction in checkmonitoring and continued success over comingyears will reduce it further.
Scottish regulators are watching OMA closely andthe Environment Agency wants to extend the conceptto other areas, starting with water discharges. IYICorrect self-monitoring of
air emissions will help keepregulation to a minimum.
Environment Agency
Tel :+44(0)845 933 3111
Source Testing Association
Tel:+44 (0)1462 457 535