Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook

Environmental Audit in Industrial Projects

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' An environmental audit is a process to assess the nature and extent of environmental concerns at an existing facility -- an industrial plant, an abandoned site, a mine area, or any other site where the existence of industrial pollution problems is identified or anticipated. It is used to provide data on the extent of pollution in an industrial area, to quantify the scale of pollution at a particular site, or to examine the causes and potential remedies of problems at a facility. This note provides guidance on the uses of environmental audits in industrial pollution management and on the scope of a typical audit.'

Types of Environmental Audit

The term Environmental Audit is used to cover a wide range of activities based on formal evaluation of an organization’s or facility’s performance in relation to environmental objectives. There are many different definitions reflecting different emphases and objectives but the critical elements are that the audit is objective, systematic and based on defined criteria. (For a discussion of Environmental Audits in a broader sense, see Environmental Assessment Sourcebook Update series.) Several broad categories of audits can be defined (see Box) but this note focuses on the use of environmental audits in World Bank industrial pollution management activities. In these cases, the principal objective is to collect factual information about the extent and causes of pollution at a site or facility and possible remedial actions. In some IFC projects, a project-specific environmental audit is used as part of the formal environmental analysis and review process and particular requirements will apply. (For details contact the Environment Division at IFC.) Clearly, it is important that the scope and objectives of an audit be clearly defined.

Use of Site Audits

A Site Audit is often the first step in obtaining a quantitative understanding of pollution problems. In many cases the audit allows an evaluation to be made of priorities and of the extent (and cost) of control and remediation measures. This information then shapes any remediation actions and investments.

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