Preparing for a Visit by the Department of Environmental
Protection Inspector Visits
Inspections may occur as part of the regular Plant visits of the
Department of Environmental Protection. These visits are designed
to ensure general compliance with environmental legislation.
Inspections may also be made following a complaint or when matters
of noncompliance have been reported to the Department of
Environmental Protection by the person who holds the license
("Approval") necessary to operate the Plant.
Procedures should be in place to ensure that inspections are
dealt with in a consistent and logical manner. Ideally, a
Compliance Manual, including a section dealing with inspections,
should be available. The Manual should deal with the following
Ensure that all employees are aware of the inspectors'
rights and their rights to counsel;
Identify one contact person to deal with the inspectors and to
ensure that at least two plant personnel are present at
Keep legal counsel informed, in particular if the purpose of
the visit is not routine;
Consider having legal counsel attend any meetings that are part
of a non-routine inspection;
Ensure that the inspector is accompanied throughout the plant
and that concurrent readings and samples are taken for your review
Ensure that the contact person records the relevant points of
each visit including who attended, what was said and by whom;
Be careful in answering questions and answer the question
directly without providing unnecessary background information;
Be co-operative but cognizant of your rights at all times;
Summarizes the legal authority for and your response to the
presentation of a search warrant for Environmental Protection.
The Criminal Code deals with the reach and scope of search
warrants. Alberta's Provincial Offences Procedure Act
specifically adopts Part XV of the Criminal Code. Section 487 of
the Code authorizes the seizure of anything which "will afford
evidence with respect to the commission of an offence." The
Supreme Court of Canada has held that the section's scope is
wide enough to authorize seizure of "due diligence"
evidence such as audits or other studies. Although this power would
only be used following receipt of a complaint or the occurrence of
another event not authorized by your Approval, your Compliance
Manual should deal with the issue. Legal counsel should be called
immediately. In addition, you should review your circumstances and
design a system which would support an argument that
solicitor-client privilege is available to protect due diligence or
other reports. In certain circumstances privilege may attach to
reports and other documentation obtained as part of the process of
providing legal advice.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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