Even the most effective and well developed Environmental Management Systems (EMS) will at times have failures resulting in environmental incidents. Successful EMS will have pre-plans to anticipate and respond to emergency situations which may occur. The following are tips to develop an environmental emergency response plan.
- Conduct a risk assessment to determine the environmental incidents which could occur at your facility. In conducting the risk assessment consider:
- Safety incidents captured within your safety and health risk register which could have an environmental aspect.
- Chemicals, fuels, and other products used at the facility. Many of these products are already captured and identified if your facility is required to maintain a Hazardous Material Permit.
- Controls that have been implemented to reduce the likelihood and severity of the incidents.
- For each of the potential incidents identified through the risk assessment, outline a course of action that would be taken to control and minimize the environmental impacts. The response plans should consider and outline:
- Roles and responsibilities during and post incident.
- How to maintain personal safety during the response.
- Isolation of the environmental incident and securing the area of the incident (i.e. isolating a spill).
- Protection of sensitive environmental areas (i.e. waterways, wildlife).
- Clean-up and mitigation procedures.
- Equipment and resources available on site to mitigate the environmental incident.
- Outside resources that are available in the case of an incident which requires resources which are beyond those located on site.
- Internal notification and reporting requirements.
- Regulatory agency notifications including reportable quantities, reporting, and contact information.
- Press releases and community notifications.
- Also develop a procedure to form a formal Incident Command Center if the incident warrants continued resources over an extended period of time.
Establishing an emergency response plan will result in a quicker and more effective response to an unplanned environmental incident. What have you found to be the most effective way to plan for an environmental incident?