Ensuring the safety of our environment is crucial not just for everyone but for future generations as well, and that responsibility is the main purpose of environmental inspections by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
There are a lot of factors nowadays that could influence our views when it comes to environmental protection, especially on how the environment affects human existence, but all are aimed at ensuring that environmental protection is a primary goal.
According to the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA), any individual or entity responsible for generating hazardous waste needs to coordinate regularly and consistently with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
One basic and compulsory requirement is pa-dep training classes required by the EPA to ensure compliance with regulations governing specific waste streams, generator status, reporting, and record-keeping requirements, and adherence to pa-dep inspection schedules, just to name a few.
The DEP, however, aside from conducting inspection classes, often goes further than the RCRA and the EPA in terms of regulations and practices, often setting higher standards and enforcing stringent rules to in promoting and driving environmental protection compliance.
What to expect during inspections
There’s no denying that these environment agencies conduct inspections, which can sometimes be unannounced or unscheduled. There are instances when the EPA, DEP, and state agencies conduct site inspections and assessments called a joint oversight inspection.
If violations are detected during the inspections, it could end up in fines or even cause operations to be suspended or even ceased until waste management plans are enforced, and special provisions are met.
DEP inspections can happen anytime, so ensuring that management and personnel in any facility need always to be prepared. Here are the common expectations during EPA or DEP inspections;
- General walk-through of the facility.
- Inspection of waste handling procedures.
- A thorough check on main and satellite accumulation areas.
- Evaluate if there is adequate aisle space within the facility.
- On-site sampling and testing.
- Assessment on available emergency equipment.
Inspectors often request for supporting documents or proof of waste management processes and programs, as well as request for records on the following;
- Inspection and monitoring records for hazardous waste storage and holding areas.
- Personnel training records.
- Personnel and visitor manifests.
- Waste minimization plans and contingencies.
- Equipment testing and maintenance records.
- Waste analysis records.
- EPA biennial reports or state annuals.
- Emergency contingency plans
- Compliance records for pa-dep training classes and attendance.
The more the facility and personnel are well-prepared for inspections, the more chances of them passing the inspection with flying colors. Preparedness is always a key factor in anticipating routine and surprise inspections that prevent everyone from being caught off-guard.