EMS Update - On the Path to Environmental Improvement
By Mike Grissom
How do we address environmental concerns in our day-to-day work and also
plan for future concerns? We use a system, called an Environmental
Management System (EMS). EMS offers a methodology for managing our
environmental concerns in a systematic manner.
Back in June 2004 (see
http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/tip/2004/jun04/horizon.htm), I wrote
about how an EMS was on the horizon. Since then, SLAC is progressing in
the development of a DOE-verified EMS program. Our deadline for
implementing this program is December 31, 2005.
What is an EMS? How Does it
In short, EMS is a system to bring
together the people, plans, review mechanisms and procedures for
managing environmental issues in an organization.
EMS involves a Plan-Do-Check-Act
process. This sequence may sound very familiar, since the same process
is also used in our Integrated Safety and Management System (ISMS).
Many of us also use this process to
assure that we are managing our day-to-day operations with an eye toward
continual improvement so that we do not have to always jump over the
same hurdles time and again to get our work done. At the same time, we
improve our work performance by learning from past experiences. An EMS
helps us set up a system for improving our environmental performance and
ensuring feedback reaches the right people to enable change for the
better (continual improvement).
A simple analogy shows how EMS
helps. You want to put a glass of milk on the table. Where would you
place the milk—near the middle of the table or at the edge of the table?
The environmental analogy is how do you want to manage your
environmental issues—putting a drum of oil near a storm drain or keeping
it far from the drain and perhaps in secondary containment? Increasing
our ability to avoid spills is an example of continual improvement.
Another example is using an electric vehicle for on-site transportation
over a gasoline powered vehicle.
Helping to Protect the
EMS can also be viewed as a way of
increasing our reliability in protecting the environment.
A part of the EMS is the development
of an organizational environmental policy. This policy is a public
statement that the SLAC organization is committed to promoting
environmental compliance, pollution prevention and improved
environmental performance with others—the DOE, our regulators, the SLAC
community and our neighbors. The Environmental Policy for SLAC can be
found in the ES&H Policy:
Creating this policy helps us affirm
the goals we have set to make environmental improvements.
Environmental Management Review
Back in March of this year, SLAC
voluntarily invited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
conduct an Environmental Management Review. Many of you participated in
this review. On the behalf of SLAC management, I thank you all for your
efforts in demonstrating to the EPA our readiness to implement an EMS.
The EPA helped identify some of the
gaps in our EMS and helped us gain momentum on the path of continual
improvement. A number of observations and areas of improvement
recommended by EPA are provided at:
The EMS Working Group (EMSWG)
members and various Line and Environmental Program Managers are
currently collaborating on targets and performance indicators that will
further steer SLAC on the path to continual environmental improvement.
The EMSWG is also reviewing the EMS
Manual that will outline the procedures that SLAC will use to identify
how it will continue to achieve environmental compliance and pollution
prevention and how it will provide continual improvement in those
activities that are deemed to have a potentially significant impact on
What can you do while this process
is developing? For now, please take a look at the environmental policy.
Be aware of the environmental impacts of your work and consider options
on how you can best mitigate those impacts. If you have questions,
contact Rich Cellamare at Ext. 3401,
Thanks to everyone for your past and
future efforts towards continual improvement in our environmental