For some assessments, the boundaries used to define the scope of the assessment are not explicitly defined. For example, an environmental assessment report might state “only conditions considered to represent a significant risk are discussed”, or “only conditions representing a significant financial liability are addressed”. In both cases, the meaning of “significant” is key to defining the boundaries of the assessment. Other assessments may appear to be more analytical, “only conditions representing greater than a $100,000 financial liability are addressed”. In this case, and those above, it is implied that a wider range of issues were considered and only a subset were documented. Without documentation of the wider ranges of issues, a reviewer is left not knowing what the boundaries of the assessment really were.
What if the boundaries are not addressed in a report? The most problematic situation for a reviewer will be an assessment report that does not document its boundaries. In this case, the conclusions of assessment can not be considered valid, although the report itself may include valid information. Unfortunately, it takes time to review and understand this level of detail; a reviewer relying on an executive summary will typically not gain this level of understanding of the scope of the assessment.
Caltha LLP assisting clients in planning and conducting their environmental assessment. Caltha also provides technical review services for existing assessment documents.