Concrete inFocus - Spring 2015 - (Page OC2)
infocus online connections: enviroscene
Your Biggest Environmental
Threat in 2015 is NOT
Who You Think!
hen we're conducting environmental
or doing site
inspections, I regularly ask concrete
producers what they view as their biggest
threat regarding environmental compliance.
It's a great question, since if you don't know
who or what to be concerned about, you can't
really be adequately prepared. And if you're not
prepared, you're probably headed for trouble.
You can probably guess the answer I normally
get. The state or local environmental
Think about it for a minute. The same
inspector, who has been visiting your facility,
possibly for years, who you've maybe gotten
to know, and could just be penciling in his or
her inspection report, is your biggest concern?
Hardly. Sure you might get a new inspector
who is tougher, or there may have been a
complaint, or maybe you have operations in
a state that's cracking down on compliance
issues. But by and large, this is very likely a
person who has grown accustomed and comfortable
with you, your level of environmental
commitment and performance, and your compliance
level. He or she knows you and your
operation, and probably won't rock the boat.
How about USEPA inspectors? I get it
infrequently, but it's possible they could be
a concern at your operation.
The USEPA has oversight over nearly all
environmental regulations in the U.S., so you
can be inspected at any time by someone who
may have never been to your site before. He
or she may have never even been to a facility
like yours before. Or might be coming in
deliberately looking to find something to issue
a violation on. Sounds pretty scary, right?
However, these visits are few and far between
from what I've seen over the years. Unless
you're near a field office, or there's some sort
of specific enforcement action going on, the
chance of having a USEPA inspection is much,
much lower in most places than your state
or local guy. USEPA inspectors carry a lot
of authority (i.e., they can issue some pretty
steep enforcement penalties, including BIG
fines), but since you rarely see them, they're
not the reason to lose sleep at night.
So who does that leave? Neighbors? Maybe,
but they usually have to resort to complaining
to your state or local inspectors. So who then?
Your biggest environmental
2015 is organized, third-party environmental
Ever run into one of them at your operation?
If not, consider yourself lucky, but be
very wary. They just might be the future of
environmental regulation. These folks have a
very definite agenda, and they usually don't
play nice. Not fully in compliance with an
environmental regulation? In cases I've seen
and read about, these groups have the ability
to pursue legal action against you for failing
to comply with every detail of your permit (or
worse if you don't have a permit!), including
the ability to sue for damages. While your
state or USEPA inspector might be willing to
give you some leeway to get into compliance,
or overlook small issues, these third-party
environmental groups might not.
Imagine an army of zealous environmentalists
poring over every detail of your operation
and compliance status. This information is
easily available online, in government offices
and found using Freedom of Information
Act liberties. It's not too hard to do. These
folks, very easily, can determine if you are
in compliance with every little detail of your
After some research, they'll follow up with
a lawsuit against you for environmental violations.
Bottom line is, if you're out of compliance
and one of these environmental groups
finds out, you could be a huge target.
In my experience, these environmental
groups have done things like serve lawsuits
to facilities for fines in the multi-million
dollar range, demanded access to the facility
in the future to ensure absolute ongoing
compliance, and have required implementing
environmental management systems to stay
in compliance, etc. Certain regulations allow
these groups to get away with this stuff. They
should be taken very, very seriously.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
First and most obviously, find out if you're
in compliance with everything that could
apply to your operation. If you're not sure,
have a professional conduct a thorough environmental
audit of your operation to find
out. If you do find you're missing a permit,
approval or some sort of plan, get it ASAP.
If you find you've not been doing something
completely or adequately? Correct it, change
your operation's culture and make sure your
staff knows how to be in compliance. If something
at your facility needs to be repaired to
comply with your permit requirements, then
fix it immediately.
I know what you're thinking, that's all
going to cost time and money. And you're
right. However, what time, money and energy
you'll put into fixing the issue now will be a
fraction of the hassle it will be should you get
a certified letter or environmental watchdog
showing up at your facility one day.
OC2 ı SPRING 2015
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Concrete inFocus - Spring 2015
Ready Mixed Plant Innovations
Data Security of Credit Card Processing in the Concrete Industry
Oldcastle Material Group
How the Concrete Paving Industry is Incorporating Sustainability into Our Practices
Index of Advertisers
The Trail to Your Future Business Should be Paved with Concrete
Your Biggest Environmental Threat in 2015 is NOT Who You Think!
Why is the Air There? Thinking about Freeze-Thaw in Terms of Saturation
Concrete inFocus - Spring 2015