Timber treaters should feel reassured that a recent letter from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) about upcoming inspections is not a threat to your business, but rather a routine letter sent to all treaters across the country.Some timber treaters are feeling threatened by the letter, which is understandable but unnecessary. The letter can be seen in a positive light, as it provides the necessity to ensure your full compliance with environmental regulations, which will help to safeguard both the environment and the sustainability of your business.The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued the letter to most, if not all, treatment plants, as well as to the South African Wood Preservers’ Association, late last year.SAWPA has submitted a copy of the letter to an environmental legal expert, who has confirmed that the letter is “not abnormal”, as each year the DEA approaches and investigates different industries which it has not focused on in the past.The letter states that DEA inspection teams (the Green Scorpions) will visit and inspect all treatment plants known to them to assess their compliance with environmental regulations. An inspection report will follow and the plant will be given time – usually six months – to dispute, appeal or comply with any shortcomings. After this period, penalties or prosecution can ensue.SAWPA advises treaters to be pro-active, and undertake an environmental risk assessment before the inspectors visit, and to take the necessary remedial steps. The standards that apply are SANS 10255, Health, safety and environmental guidelines for the construction and operation of timber treatment plants, which includes a checklist.In addition, SAWPA, as per the letter sent to its members, is disputing one aspect of the letter: the mention of the requirement for Atmospheric Emissions Licences. The regulations state that these are necessary for processes in which heat is applied, which is not the case for treating timber with CCA. SAWPA is alerting the DEA to this inconsistency. We will keep you updated, when the DEA reports back on this issue.Dolphin Bay believes it is crucial for every member of the industry to comply with the environmental regulations, to safeguard the future of our industry. “We need to look after our industry, and its sustainability is paramount,” says Bertus.As an easy and cost-effective way to help you ensure your compliance with the regulations, Dolphin Bay has partnered with the environmental experts with whom we have worked for years, Ross Holland and Associates, to offer you an assessment service. To find out more, please read Gaining peace of mind.