The evaluation of site sensitivity is vital in recognising environmental risks and determining the relevant legislation that applies to all types of development.

A site screening assessment is an essential tool valued by successful developers, not only to ensure their projects are financially viable, but also to ensure planning and execution are done in an environmentally responsible manner, compliant with national, provisional, and local legislation.Industrial plants can have potential impacts on our valuable water resources as a result of operational aspects throughout the lifespan of the activities. These potential impacts can influence the surface and groundwater quality, air quality, soil quality and the quality of the surrounding environment, all of which have a bearing on the integrity of water resources. Industrial plants can potentially impact on the surface water quality through discharge of treated or untreated waste from the facility, or from chemical constituents present within the stormwater runoff from the plant (Osibanjo, et al., 2011). Groundwater can be potentially impacted on by chemicals and other effluents not being contained within the confines of the facility, which if not adequately covered allows them to seep into the soil and resultantly enters the groundwater system (Bharti, et al., 2013). Air quality can be potentially impacted on by smoke and chemicals in gas being released from vehicles and chimneys stacks (Ragothaman & Anderson, 2017). These substances being released into the air can then settle further away from the plant in communities and natural areas where these chemicals enter the surface water and soil which can then seep into the groundwater system. Another potential impact from industrial plants on water resources is that of soil quality if adequate soil management is not implemented. Soil quality can potentially be impacted on by chemicals, effluents and waste, originating from industrial plants, that are not being properly contained. The potentially harmful constituents have the potential to leach into the soil which in turn seeps into the groundwater system, or washes into surface water systems (Bharti, et al., 2013). All of which can have a large impact on the integrity and functionality of the downstream water resources and overall biotic and abiotic environments.

The undertaking of a site screening assessment at the early planning phase acts as an “early warning system” that highlights potential environmental risks, sometimes even before a site is purchased. Some of these risks may include but are not limited to, sensitive aquatic environments (wetlands), geological conditions (dolomitic site conditions), heritage aspects (graves), and sensitive animal and plant species.

The advantage or value of these assessments in identifying opportunities to enhance positive risks that could benefit the environment and social aspects e.g. water conservation and employment creation should also not be underestimated.
To reduce the risk of industrial activities impacting on the receiving environment, various avoidance, mitigation and/or rehabilitation measures should be implemented to safeguard the downstream water resources. To mitigate potential impacts on surface and groundwater, strict control over the quantity and quality of discharge from the plant, effluent facilities and storm water runoff should be implemented and continually monitored. It is essential for each facility to have both dirty and clean water management facilities that include inter alia pipelines and stormwater drains which are directed to Pollution Control Dams (PCDs) (or similar) where runoff can be stored and processed (if necessary) without it entering the downstream water resources. In addition to this, it is vital for all surfaces where waste, product, harmful chemicals are stored to be adequately covered with an impermeable product to avoid leaching into the soil profile.

To mitigate against potential impacts on soil quality similar measures to that of the mitigation measures used for surface and groundwater should be implemented, where waste, chemicals, discharge, effluent will need to be contained in pipelines, drains, containers, and dams where it then can be properly disposed of, or treated to avoid contamination. It is imperative that impermeable barriers between potentially contaminated materials and water and the soil profile be constructed to avoid long-term alteration of the chemical composition of the relevant soil profiles. In areas where risk of soil contamination has been identified, adequate monitoring should be conducted as an early warning system. Where contamination is identified, rehabilitation measures should be implemented guided by a suitably qualified soil scientist or land contamination specialist. To mitigate potential impacts on air quality, restrictions on the amount of smoke and chemical gas released from the facility should be implemented. Measures to achieve this include: burn at specific times, change the methods by which you burn in the furnaces, change the compounds you are burning, or include regulators in the stacks from which emissions are released. This process can be hard and may be costly in the beginning but will reduce the amount and concentration of chemical gas and smoke being released into the environment. In doing so, the potential for over emission and associated fines from the competent authorities being received may be reduced.

Environmental Assurance (ENVASS) provides services which can be of use to monitor and provide mitigation measures on these potential impacts. These services include:
  • Surface Water Quality
  • Groundwater Quality
  • Air Quality
  • Dust Fall-Out
  • Biomonitoring
  • Toxicology Testing
  • DEEEP Assessments
  • Baseline Assessments
  • Sewage & Effluent Analysis and Studies
  • Environmental Authorisation Applications including:
    • Scoping and
    • Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) and Basic Assessments
    • Waste Management Licence and Exemption Applications
    • Waste Management Directives
    • Water Use Licence Applications
    • Air Emissions Licence Applications
    • Waste Management Plans
    • Environmental Management Plans
    • Integrated Water and Waste Management Plans
    • Public Participation Processes in terms of the EIA Regulations, 2014
  • Rehabilitation Strategy Implementation Plans
  • River Health Assessments (SASS5)
  • Wetland Delineations
  • FRAI (Fish Response Assessment Index)
  • VEGRAI (Vegetation Response Assessment Index)
  • Riverine Habitat Assessment
  • SADI (South African Diatom Index)
  • Present Ecological State (PES scores)
  • Odour Assessments
  • Waste Classification
  • Land Capability and Soil Remediation
  • Air Quality Baseline Assessments
  • Groundwater flow and transport modelling
  • Groundwater Reserve Determinations
  • Bottled Natural/Mineral Water Development
  • Landfill Hydrogeological Investigations
  • Groundwater and Surface Water Resource Development Plans
  • Rural or urban water supply Investigations
  • Borehole yield and aquifer testing
  • Aquifer hydraulics determinations
  • Numerical Groundwater Modelling
  • Pollution Plume Migration Studies
  • Hydrocarbon Contamination Assessment
  • Water Supply Investigations
  • Water Quality Monitoring of Water Resources
  • Microbiological Monitoring of Groundwater
  • Groundwater Level Monitoring
Should the need arise to conduct any of the abovementioned services, please free to contact ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or at and our consultants will be glad to assist.

Bharti, P., Kumar, P. & Singh, V., 2013. Impact of industrial effluents on ground water and soil quality in the vicinity of industrial area of Panipat city, India. Applied and Natural Science Foundation, 5(1), pp. 132-136.
Osibanjo, O., Daso, A. & Gbadebo, A., 2011. The impact of industries on surface water quality of River Ona and River Alaro in Oluyole Industrial Estate, Ibadan, Nigeria. African Journal of Biotechnology, 10(4), pp. 696-702.
Ragothaman, A. & Anderson, W., 2017. Air Quality Impacts of Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Industries. Environments, 4(3), p. 66.
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