(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Jotun, the paint factory in Abu Dhabi's Musaffah industrial area, was taken by surprise when four inspectors from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) turned up at its gates, followed by a bus full of journalists.
"We are here to conduct an environmental inspection," announced Abeer Sajwani, one of the EAD inspectors.
In 2012, EAD issued 1,427 environmental permits, as well as 259 permits for chemical traders. In addition, the agency conducted 676 inspections of the permitted facilities and 133 inspections for ground water wells.
There are about 1,400 facilities such as factories and estate developments in the Abu Dhabi emirate and EAD's 20 inspectors conduct regular visits to make sure they all environmentally safe.
"Personally, I do about four to six inspections in a month," said Sajwani. "We do schedule, routine inspections and also unscheduled ones. This one is a follow up inspection," she added.
Last December, EAD inspectors found some minor violations during their site visit at the paint company, and, as usual in such cases, they recommend the necessary changes and they return to check if the recommendations have been followed or not.
"We follow up on recurring violations up to a limit. If the problem is not solved or if it is a major violation, we stop the permit temporarily until the problem is solved," explained Sajwani.
The violations found here last December were missing labels on solvents and mixed up waste.
"Now the labels are in place the general waste has been separated from hazardous waste," pointed out Sajwani.
Like all EAD inspectors, she carries an electronic notebook that has a standard questionnaire for environmental inspections of industrial facilities and all she has to do is to check the 'yes'or 'no' boxes.
The inspection largely focuses on environmental issues such as pollution and noise, but also on several health and safety aspects such as workers wearing helmets when necessary or hazards like improper storage that may cause falling of boxes or containers.
The EAD inspectors also check for the waste management certificate, the civil defence certificate and the environmental license.
The inspection of the entire Jotun factory took about an hour. An electronic report is produced at the end of it, which must be signed by both the EAD inspector and the Jotun representative.
"We found a few minor violations. One was some workers not wearing their helmets and also a driver of a Forklift vehicle was speeding," mentioned Sajwani.
Although EAD was unable to release any figures, the inspectors confirmed there have been cases when they had to withhold the permit for facilities violating environmental rules and also cases when the permit was denied.
If the project succeeds in fulfilling all environmental requirements, it is then granted an operating licence. Once this licence has been issued, EAD continues to inspect the project randomly to ensure there are no environmental violations. EAD's enforcements aside, Jotun is also implementing its own eco-friendly measures such as reuse and recycle of the solvent raw material xylene. From January this year, the factory began a process to save 800,000 kilograms of metal waste in the form of 40,000 barrels, each weighing 20 kilograms. The barrels were used to host raw materials, but nine new 60,000-litre tanks will be holding the raw materials.
By Silvia Radan