Teams raid commercial and industrial facilities to ensure rules are followed
Finding evidence of pollution or breaches of environmental protection laws, identifying potential environmental hazards and ensuring facilities have all the necessary permits or licenses issued by regulators are the main tasks of environmental inspectors in protecting the environment in Abu Dhabi.
At Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the Environmental Inspection Team conducts regular site visits to ensure that industrial facilities, development projects, infrastructure works and all related activities and operations take into account applicable environmental laws and regulations and comply with environmental conditions.
Hassan Saeed Aljaberi of EAD Compliance and Audit, Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement told the Khaleej Times during a media visit with EAD inspectors at Emirates Float Glass in the Mussafah Industrial Zone on Tuesday that his job included visiting industrial Facility and record the condition of the facility. He is also responsible for ensuring the company has all required permits, identifying any potential issues, and writing inspection reports.
“For example, in this glass factory, we have to ensure that the sand trap is always closed to avoid air pollution. If there is a violation, we will issue a violation notice,” he said.
“We conduct regular unannounced inspections of industrial and commercial facilities to ensure compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations. High-risk facilities are inspected three times a year, while low-risk facilities are inspected once a year.”
These visits assess compliance with the conditions of environmental permits issued for industrial and commercial facilities, infrastructure development projects, and related operations.
As the competent authority in Abu Dhabi, EAD issues environmental licenses for the EAD regulated community in Abu Dhabi. During 2022, the EAD issued more than 1,400 environmental permits, spread across 808 industrial permits, 414 development project permits and 230 commercial facility permits.
During the same period, 1,089 inspection visits were carried out covering various commercial and industrial facilities and developments to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations, as well as environmental requirements related to environmental permits.
The scope of environmental inspection and compliance supervision covers 93 industries licensed by the General Administration. By dealing with 277 environmental violations involving different environmental pollutants or potential pollution sources, and evaluating the environmental impact of 38 operating processes, we ensure the protection of the environment from pollution. All activities within the jurisdiction of the EAD.
Classification of administrative violations
Abu Dhabi’s environmental law divides administrative violations and fines into three broad categories: fishing violations and discharges into the marine environment; violations related to hunting, biodiversity and protected areas; and violations related to development and industrial activities.
The Administrative Violation Form includes 99 violations, 46 of which are non-reconcilable, subject to a 25% settlement discount if paid within 60 days of the date of posting.
Fines range from Dh1,000 to a maximum of Dh1 million, depending on the nature of the violation, the extent of the damage to the environment and how quickly it recurs.
In 2022, the EAD said it imposed 32 administrative fines totaling Dh328,000 on companies found to be violating environmental rules. A maximum fine of Dh50,000 is imposed for the discharge of substances into the marine environment causing an unpleasant odour, unnatural colour, or causing significant changes in temperature and turbulence in the waters of the emirate.
EAD is passionate about enforcing environmental standards
project. Faisal Al Hammadi, Acting Executive Director of EAD’s Environmental Quality Sector, said: “By fulfilling its regulatory responsibilities, EAD seeks to maintain Abu Dhabi’s environmental standards, thereby eliminating negative impacts on the environment.”
Al Hammadi reiterated that EAD always seeks to strengthen its inspection efforts to keep pace with the rapid development of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. EAD also works hard to meet its commitment to the environment by issuing environmental permits and conducting inspection visits to ensure that environmental protection remains a key part of industry and development sector operations.
He also stressed that the purpose of regular inspection visits is to prevent any activities that may harm the environment. These visits also help support the technical support of these facilities by providing guidance that includes the best and latest technology and environmental management practices, as reflected in the high 96.7% environmental compliance rate of the inspected sector.
EAD also responds to environmental complaints and incidents reported through official channels to ensure that environmental damage, if any, is properly mitigated.
Recently, the Environmental Protection Law Enforcement Brigade filed a case to investigate and deal with 150 complaints, and carried out investigation and monitoring to ensure that environmental violations are corrected.
Results of regular inspection visits indicated that the most common violations were related to lack of proper training of facility personnel in the environment and handling of hazardous materials, and failure to take preventive measures to control the generation of airborne pollutants and dust. These include installing filters that capture these pollutants and monitoring them.
EAD’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement team also uses modern technology to conduct environmental inspections, as the agency develops systems and mobile applications that ensure industrial facilities and developments comply with environmental laws and requirements.
The agency said it launched the Eltezam compliance system to create a robust and efficient inspection system covering all approved industrial sectors, infrastructure projects and commercial activities within the agency. The system is based on algorithms linking industrial sectors to production processes and licensing conditions linked to a range of environmental violations, legal authorities and administrative fines.