Thursday, January 8, 2009

Environmental Assessments - Setting Assessment Boundaries

Whether explicitly communicated or not, all assessments are constructed within a set of boundaries. This is true whether the assessment is Phase I site assessment, a due diligence assessment, a compliance audit or an environmental impact assessment. Whether you are conducting, using or reviewing an environmental assessment, you need to understand those boundaries and to assure that the boundaries being used are appropriate to address the issues that the assessment is intended to address.

What are boundaries? Simply stated, boundaries for the assessment will set the limits on what types of data or information are reviewed, what types of potential impacts are being considered, and what results are being documented.
Why are boundaries important? For each assessment, boundaries are important to understand because they define how in-depth the assessment is and what information the assessment considered.

For anyone wishing to use the results of the assessment, it will be critical to understand the boundaries used to assure that the key questions important to the reviewer are covered within the scope of the assessment.

Boundaries are also important from the standpoint of someone preparing an assessment. Because assessments will need to be conducted within a specified schedule and budget, setting boundaries is a critical step in defining what the assessment will consider. It is important to recognize that defining the boundaries is conducted BEFORE the assessment is actually performed, and does not take into account the information that will subsequently be gathered and reviewed. Therefore, it is important that the assessment boundaries be periodically revisited to assure they align with any newly uncovered information.

For the reviewer, assessment boundaries are sometimes well documented. For environmental impact assessments, this may be contained in a separate “scoping document”. Other assessments may detail the assessment boundaries within the assessment report, or may refer to a standardized assessment approach such as ASTM E 1527-05.

Caltha LLP assists clients in planning and conducting many types of environmental assessments, including environmental due diligence and environmental reviews.

For further information contact Caltha LLP at
Caltha LLP Website

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