Specialist Studies

Specialist Studies

Noise can easily become a nuisance and is therefore defined as an “unwanted sound” or audible acoustic energy that adversely affects the physical and/or psychological well-being of people. Noise leads to the disturbance of peace, personal well-being, and various other impacts. Sound is the result of pressure changes in the air, caused by vibration of turbulence. The ENVASS team measures these changes in the air by using a calibrated Type 1 sound level meter in accordance with the South African National Standard (SANS 10103:2008 methods The measurement and rating of environmental noise with respect to annoyance and to speech communication), to evaluate the noise impact. Measurements are further evaluated against the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Government Notice Regulation (GNR) 154: Noise Control Regulations in Terms of Section 25 of the Environmental Conservation Act, 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989), together with SANS 10103:2008. It is important to control noise both proactively and reactively before it becomes a nuisance. ENVASS provides a report on the measured noise and possible exceedances of health and environmental noise limits and includes mitigation measures that can be implemented to reduce, prevent and manage the noise impact. These noise assessments reflect the current state of ambient and generated noise in terms of their environmental impact and are assessed in terms of the set maximum noise level allowed per assessment area. These assessments can be undertaken before any development occurs to detail ambient conditions or repeated depending on the need of the assessment. Results provide a clear and concise result of exceedances of noise limits should it occur.
People`s sense of place and perception can easily be influenced by the development of the landscape and environment where they are located. The scenic and visual components of the environment are a valuable resource to people and developers alike of which personal value and enjoyment can be compromised by existing and potential future uses. ENVASS provides a Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) service for personal and public developments to assess the significance of the visual impacts caused by or potentially caused by new developments. VIA`s are often required as part of a Basic Assessment (BA), Scoping, or an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

A significance assessment is performed by defining the closest zone to the development activities of the most significant impact, along with an extensive survey of the site and surrounding areas to determine the visibility of the proposed development from various viewpoints and in the receiving environment. The result is a report stating the impact and providing mitigation measures that can be implemented to ensure that the impact is minimal.

Visual Impact Assessments aim to describe the current and potentially affected environments by using a range of objective and subjective assessment points. Inclusive to the development and modeling of viewsheds to determine the visibility of the proposed development. The result is a substantiated report detailing the impact and potential mitigation measures that can be applied to the development to minimise the visual impact.
As mining operations are critically dependent on water and the conservation of water resources, a water balance serves as the ultimate tool to assess the current status, in addition to identifying discrepancies, shortages, and leakages within the distribution network. The development and implementation of a water balance provide an interactive water management tool that assists with the design of storage requirements, ensuring an informed decision-making process driving management strategies. A water balance can be described as the measurement and determination of flow in and out of a system, which is also considered the main building block in developing a salt balance (estimation of salt concentrations within the reticulating system). As water is re-circulated in the interests of water conservation, salt concentrations increase, posing several complications to the system, including corrosion of metal components, brine accumulation (categorised as a hazardous material), and health risks which directly increase operational, treatment, and replacement costs.

Implementation of a water balance does not only provide a proactive approach to water conservation and management strategies but ensures a cost-saving method as a foundation for salt balance estimations and mitigation of risks.
Unwanted odour emissions are a problem for many industrial processes such as Landfills, Waste Water Treatment Works, Slaughterhouses, etc. Odour itself is a combination of many different compounds and gases. Many of the compounds that combine to produce odours are the result of anaerobic bacterial decomposition of organic materials during storage or natural desertion. The decomposition rate is affected by temperature, pH, and moisture. ENVASS assists in identifying odour emissions that can adversely impact on the well-being of the surrounding land users and the receiving environment. A Report is compiled on the possibility of odours impacting on the land users and includes precautionary actions and management measures that can be taken to minimise the effect of the odours on the receiving environment.

Odour assessments are undertaken by a panel of assessors who through a subjective assessment determine and rate the impact of the observable odours. These assessments can be further supplemented with the characterisation of the actual emissions generated and modelled by using dispersion modelling of the odour constituents to provide an expected area of influence and potential mitigation and management measures.
Taking a variety of variables into consideration after analysing various samples from an area for which a land capability and/or Soil Remediation Plan is required, ENVASS can determine the current state of the soil, its fertility, levels of erosion, causes of erosion, levels of pollutants, nutrient deficiencies and more. In addition to this, a team of dedicated scientists can make recommendations to minimise impacts on the soil and land as a whole, remediate the area, and/or restore it to a state close to the original. This may either be to prevent further damage or to increase the value of a property by creating a sense of place or restoring the land to be agriculturally viable.
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