Section 28(1) of the South African National Environmental Management Act (Act no. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) specifically states that “every person who causes, has caused or may cause significant pollution or degradation of the environment must take reasonable measures to prevent such pollution or degradation from occurring, continuing or recurring, in so far as such harm to the environment is authorised by law or cannot reasonably be avoided or stopped, to minimize and rectify such pollution or degradation of the environment”. In an effort to govern proposed developments that have the potential to degrade the environment, the various competent authorities, namely: Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF), Department of Mineral and Resources (DMR), Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and their provincial representatives, require for numerous different authorisation processes to be undertaken for the relevant triggering activities.
These authorisation processes include inter alia; Environmental Authorisation (EA), Air Emissions License (AEL), Waste Management License (WML) and Water Use license (WUL), most of which require an accompanying Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) to govern the activities on-site in a conservative manner. Most, if not all, of the aforementioned authorisations will stipulate conditions that require the licensee to institute various monitoring programmes, that should be conducted by an independent contractor, to document environmental trends and compare results against legislated limits and guidelines. All in an effort to guide the activity in a precautionary manner and to provide a means of pre-empting, or identifying any changes in environmental trends that may result in the pollution and/or degradation of the natural environment. This in part fulfils the proponent’s legal responsibility under Section 28(1) of NEMA (Act no. 107 of 1998), however further actions may be required if environmental pollution and/or degradation may need to be minimised, or rectified.
The typical monitoring programmes that may be stipulated within each authorisation include; WUL- Ground and/or surface water flow and quality monitoring, which may include chemical, bacteriological and aquatic biomonitoring analyses. AEL: Dust fallout, ambient air and stack air emissions quality monitoring. It has also become increasingly common to see the requirement of soil chemistry monitoring, particular where dust suppression is taking place on sites where sensitive landscapes and/or landforms are identified. In most authorisations, it is stipulated that the monitoring results for a specific period (e.g. weekly monthly, quarterly or biannually) must be culminated into a report and submitted to a local, regional or national competent authority for review and record purposes under each authorisation. Bearing this in mind, the monitoring and reporting must be conducted by a suitably qualified professional who has preferably conducted numerous similar studies.
The accurate, efficient and cost-effective execution of the compliance monitoring programmes remains the real challenge. It requires knowledge of the industry, processes and an understanding of the perceived environmental impacts if negative trends are recorded. Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) has supported the numerous economic sectors of South African, specifically mining, industry and infrastructural development, in various forms, shapes and sizes of compliance monitoring programmes over the past sixteen years. Each designed, and subsequently executed by our inhouse professional scientists, to represent the exact requirements of the specific operation and its accompanying authorisation. These programmes range from single site simplistic once-off baseline assessments to multi-seasonal totally integrated soil, groundwater, surface water, effluent water, waste, air quality, odour assessments and biomonitoring programmes.
ENVASS is able to provide cost-saving initiatives to our exclusive clientele through our strategic alliances with SANAS accredited laboratories throughout South African and abroad. All the while, our tertiary educated and skilled workforce are available to conduct efficient on-site and remote implementation of the compliance monitoring programme that has been tailored to your organisational and legislated needs. Internal sample and product protocols and strict chain of custody, backed up by ground-breaking technology and support, allow ENVASS to produce best-in-class services at a highly competitive rate. Our fleet and offices are strategically positioned across South Africa and are all equipped with field monitoring instruments inclusive of various water quality probes, air quality sensors, noise sensors, hydrocarbon sniffers, purging pumps and many more specific applications.