ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT/ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT (EIA/EA)

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT/ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT (EIA/EA)

Environmental Impact Assessment is a tool designed to identify and predict the impact of a project on the bio-geophysical environment and on man’s health and well-being, to interpret and communicate information about the impact, to analyze site and process alternatives and provide solutions to sift out, or abate/mitigate the negative consequences on man and the environment.

Environmental Auditing (or Audit) is a management tool used by industry to evaluate its environmental performance. Contrary to EIA, an EA is only implemented in processing sites.

Contents of an EIA:

  1. Executive summary:

In a few pages it allows anyone (specialist or not) to understand the different repercussions of the project (on the environment, human well-being and safety) and to be informed of the alternatives chosen and the mitigating measures that have to be implemented.

  1. Project description, and legal and administrative framework:

A brief description of the project is necessary with all off-site extensions and their interaction with natural and social components. All the regulations implemented within the EIA must be detailed here.

  1. Scoping and screening:

It is important that people in charge of the protection of the environment (ministries, borrowers, donors, NGOs, associations, inhabitants…) can outline to the investor the limits of the EIA, in time, space and the type of impact to be addressed (as well as the way of evaluating them), and identify the alternatives.

  1. Description of the existing environment:

Precise data relevant to the site is required, describing: intended uses, quality, physical, biological, social, and economic conditions. This description must include other existing or proposed developments. The use of maps, graphs, drawings… is very important for a better understanding of the situation. Key data gaps and uncertainties must be identified here.

  1. Analysis of alternatives and basis for the selection of the alternative proposed:

The project description (see paragraph 2 above) is completed by a precise description of the different choices concerning processes, site and all alternatives that the investor has examined for a better protection of the environment and populations concerned. A comparison of these different alternatives, in term of their potential impact and cost/benefit analysis, is required. The basis on which each alternative is chosen must be stated.

  1. Environmental issues of the project:

Once the project is defined and all alternatives thoroughly studied, this section presents the environmental issues around the final project. Each area of positive or negative impact must be defined in terms of its magnitude, reversibility, period of occurrence and nature (primary, secondary…). At this stage it is important to outline in detail the different phases of the project and to address all the environmental repercussions linked with each phase. All the drastically negative repercussions that cannot be eliminated must be identified and mitigating measures must be proposed in the next chapter.

  1. Mitigating measures:

For all remaining negative repercussions, mitigating measures have to be proposed (and must be undertaken as soon as the project starts). These measures must be realistic both technically and economically. The efficiency of each measure in reducing significant negative effects to an acceptable level must be assessed. An estimation of the required investment is necessary at this stage to verify the feasibility of the proposed measures.

  1. Environmental management and training and environmental monitoring plan:

In order to try and prevent environmental accidents, it is necessary to prepare a document to define the role of each person or group in the environmental management team of the future company and the monitoring and training procedures undertaken to enhance the capabilities of the staff and workers. These documents will naturally be updated once the plant is built.

  1. Appendices:

All documents needed for understanding the chosen methodology, the references, the meetings with ministries, scientists, managers, affected groups, the names and qualifications of the authors of the study, need to appear under this heading.

Contents of an EA:

There are many kinds of audit which can be conducted alone or not. The audit can be concentrated on organization, emission, compliance with standards and regulation, maintenance, security, material balance, training, outside contractors…

The different steps of an EA are as follows:

  1. Pre-audit activities: which include:
    • Selection and scheduling of facility to audit
    • Selection of audit team
    • Contact with facility and planning of the audit
  2. Site activities: which are divided into 5 steps:
    • First understanding of internal controls
    • Assessment of internal controls
    • Gathering of audit evidence
    • Evaluation of audit findings
    • Report of findings to facility
  3. Post audit activities: which include:
    • Production of a draft report
    • Production of a final report
    • Preparation and implementation of an action plan
    • Monitoring of action plan

It is important to notice that the audit system is a cycle. Its periodicity has to be defined previously and the site control phase periodicity must not exceed 3 years.

Our Trainers are registered experts under the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

Training’s target audience:

Internal Auditors and Environmental Auditors, Environmental specialists, Project Managers and Policy makers.