Most of our clients were well-prepared and could respond in a professional and confident manner when inspectors from the Department of Environmental Affairs began visiting their plants earlier this year.
Dolphin Bay has helped many customers with several services to ensure their environmental compliance, including consultants’ assessments, environmental management plans, and waste removal. Customers who took us up on these offers were the most prepared, reporting that they felt there was “nothing unexpected that could be raised” and that they had “time to fix what is necessary.”
They said that the long-anticipated inspections had taken place “in a calm and relaxed atmosphere”.
Treaters in the Southern and Western Cape have become well prepared over time due to constant pressure from the department and their municipalities, said Braam Rust.
“What has happened in some of the regions of South Africa should serve as warning bells for the others”
The inspectors in these areas asked for little other than updated operator training certificates. Our customers could provide these immediately, as Dolphin Bay had provided this training a month previously and awarded the certificates.
In the eastern parts of the country the inspectors asked probing questions, reported Mark Duckham. These included how permission was obtained for the plant to be built, whether the bunded areas could contain a spillage, and whether proper waste disposal methods were in place. Treaters were given about two weeks to respond with the required documents and feedback – a very short time for a proper response. This is why it is so important to be prepared, Bertus observed.
Our clients in the eastern regions were confident of their ability to satisfy the inspectors’ demands. Most of them have had an EIA consultant helping them prepare for the visits and could produce documents showing their compliance, or the steps they were taking to ensure it. In many cases, the consultant was Ross Holland of Holland and Associates, the environmental consultancy that Dolphin Bay uses and trusts.
Fewer plants in the northern areas of the country were visited. Nonetheless, those who have taken proactive steps towards environmental compliance had fewer hurdles, and more visits are likely in the future. “What has happened in some of the regions of South Africa should serve as warning bells for the others,” said Darren Marillier.
“Be prepared,” added Mark, “because you might think the inspectors will never visit but they do, and they will.”
“The lesson is to have the most important issues covered,” concluded Braam.
Bertus observed that the inspections were only a threat if treaters didn’t take them seriously, in which case the visits would be extremely stressful. “Most of our customers have been proactive in avoiding this stress and, in the process, taken a responsible attitude towards compliance.
“A prepared approach leaves managers with more time and energy to concentrate on the optimal productivity and efficiency of their plants.”