An environmental safety plan is a tool that is used to make sure that any unnecessary and preventable harmful effects of the decommissioning, operation and construction of specific projects are avoided while, at the same time, enhancing the beneficial and positive impact of the project. It aims to pinpoint critical environmental issues that may be encountered throughout the course of the project and also gives policies and plans to manage the identified problems properly [1,2]. At Anderson, we use environmental safety plans on a daily basis as part of our environmental characterization and site assessment work.
Objectives of an Environmental Safety Plan
The goals of an environmental safety plan are the following[1,3]:
- To provide initiatives that would enhance the positive impacts of a project
- To have a response in situations with an unforeseen event
- To validate the environmental performance via data on implications as they are happening
- To provide detailed measures to help in lessening the environmental effects of the project
- To respond to constant improvement in environmental performance
- To make sure that the allocation of resources and materials is sufficient on a budget of the project to maintain consistency on the environmental impact with the project activities
- To make sure that the regulatory guidelines and conditions, whether local, provincial, national or international, are being met
- To respond in the event of changes in project implementation
Scope of an Environmental Safety Plan
The environmental safety plan should be able to cover the following if objectives are to be met:
- Define the environmental management objectives that need to be achieved during the project so that harmful ecological impacts may be avoided and beneficial effects will be maximized.
- Provide clarity on the institutional roles and structures, as well as the reporting and communication processes that will be needed to implement the safety plan effectively.
- Discuss in detail the steps that need to be taken in achieving the stated objectives.
- Address how the objectives will be met, who will be responsible, the target time, what resources will be needed, what standard will be used for verification, and the target performance level desired.
- Describe the requirements for reporting, auditing, review, keeping, and updating of the safety plan.
- Provide the link between the safety plan and any related ordained requirements
Preparation and Implementation
It is essential to bear in mind these useful background information when preparing an environmental safety plan: documents from the EIA process, any local monitoring programs available, any applicable rules that may affect the implementation of the project, environmental standards, and regulations that need to be observed in implementing the plan .
It is also important to note that there is no specific format to follow when making an environmental safety plan. The size would be dependent on the circumstances surrounding a particular project in a given time. Also, the amount of detail in the discussions of the plan would be dependent on how much environmental risk a project can pose, as well as how large or small a project is .
With regard to its implementation, the method statements should clearly state how the potential environmental impacts will be managed in line with the requirements of the plan and how the objectives in the project will be achieved. It must also clearly state the responsibilities of the different parties that will be involved. Monitoring programs should also be established to determine the effectiveness of management actions .