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  ISO 14001 And Other Environmental Specs
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Author Topic:   ISO-14001
lois
Lurker (<10 Posts)

Posts: 1
From:latexo,tx,usa
Registered: Mar 99

posted 17 March 1999 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lois     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am currently working on an ISO-14001 program for my company. I am having trouble with 4.3.1 Environmental Aspects. I don't know where to start evaluating. Any ideas?

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Jon Shaver
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Posts: 38
From:Edgemont, PA, USA
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posted 18 March 1999 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jon Shaver   Click Here to Email Jon Shaver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're starting at the right place. You can only improve if you know what it is you're trying to improve.
Think about "significant environmnetal impacts" that your facility has. Things like ozone depletion, air/water pollution, waste generation, flora/fawna degredation, toxic exposure or even something simple like odor. Then consider what you do to cause these impacts (VOC emission, releases of other hazardous substances, wastewater effluent, waste removal, stormwater discharge, etc). These are the aspects of your operation that cause the impacts. The word "significant" is a key part of determining the environmnetal impacts that define your aspects. So if your operation has a slight odor problem and also emits a lot of VOC then the VOC is regarded (by reasonable persons) as more significant.
Hope this helps. As I said, you're starting at the right place. Considering your env'l aspects carefully will help a lot as you define objectives and programs.
Jon

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Randy
Forum Wizard

Posts: 228
From:Barstow, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 1999

posted 22 June 1999 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy   Click Here to Email Randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You need to look at every aspect of your operation that can have an environmental effect(definition of Environmental Aspect). Some seemingly minor operations or practices could be classified as having a significant impact when added up across the board.

Look at the amount of electricity, natural gas and water you use.

Identify your waste streams. Not just the Hazardous stuff either. Look at your paper waste. Are you killing too many trees.

Are you using office materials that can be replaced by less hazardous stuff?

Look at the toilets. Are they water friendly or do they use 20 gallons a flush.

As an EMS Auditor I would look for the above and more.

Under 14001 the organization has to take a top to bottom look at ALL, not just some of its Environmental Aspects.

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Roger Eastin
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Posts: 345
From:Greenville, SC
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posted 23 June 1999 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Roger Eastin   Click Here to Email Roger Eastin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps, I am just a wasteful capitalist, but I have a hard time seeing some of those areas that Randy listed as "significant" environmental impact areas. I agree that we need to be environmentally conscientious, but is that the same thing as some area that has significant environmental impact? Perhaps, it's a macro vs micro thing...

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Randy
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Posts: 228
From:Barstow, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 1999

posted 23 June 1999 11:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy   Click Here to Email Randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was only listing potential "Aspects". Each organization has to establish its own set of criteria as to was constitutes a "Signifcant Impact".

The standard states that each organization is have a procedure to identify "the environmental aspects". The word "THE" is the catch (confused yet?) "THE" is non-prescriptive and can be interpreted as ALL.

"Environmental aspects" are basically anything the organization does that can interact with the environment. It must also be remembered that "Aspects" don't have to be negative. Positive "Aspects" also need to be identified if they exist. A positive "Aspect" could be a recycling program.

Organizations can get wrapped around the axle if they read too much or too little into the standard. Objectivitiy has to be a prime factor when establishing a program. this is real hard for some people.

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John C
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Posts: 134
From:Cork City, Ireland
Registered: Nov 98

posted 23 June 1999 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John C   Click Here to Email John C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd go along with Randy here and I think Jon is pointing that way when he looks at a slight odour v a big VOC. The VOC is significant and the slight odour is not. But, an impact that is slight in one context, can be significant in another. A problem that has traditionally been a non-issue, like the leakage loss in the British water system before privatisation, is now a major issue with consumers, suppliers and the European Commission. A brick in your toilet cistern made be no big deal but, along with all the others, it can save us flooding a valley. Also, if I have a clean(ish) operation, should I do nothing? If I've cleaned up 90%, should I stop? I get the impression that ISO 14000 has this thought out and aims, more or less, to take a similar percentage of impact off the top of everyone's activity. Quite right too.
rgds, John C

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John C
Forum Contributor

Posts: 134
From:Cork City, Ireland
Registered: Nov 98

posted 23 June 1999 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John C   Click Here to Email John C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd go along with Randy here and I think Jon is pointing that way when he looks at a slight odour v a big VOC. The VOC is significant and the slight odour is not. But, an impact that is slight in one context, can be significant in another. A problem that has traditionally been a non-issue, like the leakage loss in the British water system before privatisation, is now a major issue with consumers, suppliers and the European Commission. A brick in your toilet cistern made be no big deal but, along with all the others, it can save us flooding a valley. Also, if I have a clean(ish) operation, should I do nothing? If I've cleaned up 90%, should I stop? I get the impression that ISO 14000 has this thought out and aims, more or less, to take a similar percentage of impact off the top of everyone's activity. Quite right too.
rgds, John C

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Randy
Forum Wizard

Posts: 228
From:Barstow, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 1999

posted 23 June 1999 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy   Click Here to Email Randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A key phrase that sometimes escapes folks is "continual improvement'. No matter where a system is, there is always a possibility of improvement. Nothing is 100% except death and taxes. That's why once the "significant impacts" are determined, based upon the organizations criteria, the targets and objectives are to be defined to show the improvement.

P.S. I like your accent John............

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Roger Eastin
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From:Greenville, SC
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posted 25 June 1999 09:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Roger Eastin   Click Here to Email Roger Eastin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am with you guys here. However, the initial question came from someone who was just getting started and it seems to me that company should be focusing on the major items, not how much toilet water they use. Having said that, though, a more mature operation should focus on continual improvement(which may include recycling and water usage).

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Randy
Forum Wizard

Posts: 228
From:Barstow, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 1999

posted 25 June 1999 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy   Click Here to Email Randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's very true about not worrying with toilets except when you look at it this way.

Let's say a 1000 employee organization seeking registration under 14001 does not have any of its operations that create waste water (not very likely but possible).

Now looking at basic human needs, each individual has to answer the call twice daily.

With an average flush of 5 gallons per, and a 200 day work year, this comes to 2,000,000 gallons of waste water.

In some areas of the world, like where I live and work in the Mojave Desert, I think we could say toilet usage would be a "Significant Aspect" and create a "Significant Impact". In fact I think in some places back East like Georgia, parts of Tennessee, and the Carolinas that are experiancing a drought right now, 2,000,000 gallons of water is real important.

That's why each organization is encombered with taking a look at everything and determining itself what is significant.

I, as an auditor, would look at this.

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Randy
Forum Wizard

Posts: 228
From:Barstow, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 1999

posted 05 August 1999 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy   Click Here to Email Randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been a couple of weeks since the last entry on this topic, but news today bears out what I previously stated.

News from Maryland

Businesses: Immediate voluntary compliance of 10 percent reduction in water use. Must prepare emergency plans to reduce water usage by 10 percent and include provisions for immediate implementation if required at a later date. Businesses using less than 10,000 gallons per day are excepted.


How many ISO 14000 organizations are jumping through hoops now if they had previously not considered water (used in any capacity) as an aspect?

What if an organization today is going through initial registration or surveillance?
Will they make it if they haven't identified water usage? Depends on what the auditor had for breakfast - maybe the restaurant didn't serve him/her a glass of water because of the shortage.

This single topic illustrates how each item, no matter how seemingly insignificant, should be addressed.

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Lyndon Diong
Forum Contributor

Posts: 21
From:Ipoh, Parak, Malaysia
Registered:

posted 20 September 1999 03:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lyndon Diong   Click Here to Email Lyndon Diong     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For a start you need to do an initial environmental review. The following needs to be considered.
1) List all activities in your plant.
2) Identify all environmental aspects related to each activity. Identify also the site factor and temporal factor.
3) Identify the receptors (e.g. floral and fauna)
4) Identify the environmental impact related to each environmental aspects.
5) Identify whether the impacts are significant or not. This is subjective. You may develop a rating system for this.

The easiest way is to develop a form for the review.

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Randy
Forum Wizard

Posts: 228
From:Barstow, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 1999

posted 06 October 1999 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy   Click Here to Email Randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's say I go to a place to perform an audit (hasn't happened yet). I walk up fat, dumb and happy, and notice dead grass all around, fish bely up in the pond out front, dark yellow smoke from the stacks on the property and an odor that can knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.

The folks I'm auditing identify their only Aspect and Significant Impact as the solid waste they produce. They can show control (4.3.2) of it and a plan (4.3.3) for reducing it.

Do I show conformance to the standard (4.3.1), or do I bust them for trying to pump sunshine up my ---?

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