EA raises stakes in quality stack testing

The need for customer confidence in manual stack testing will be taken a stage further next month, when the Environment Agency (EA) issues a consultation paper proposing third party certification and accreditation of stack testing personnel and organisations.


The paper, due to be launched by the Environment Agency at ET’99 in early June, is an extension of MCERTS, the EA’s monitoring certification scheme launched in April 1998, which focused initially on continuous stack emission monitoring instruments.

The aim of the new proposals is to establish a register of MCERTS qualifying personnel and organisations carrying out manual stack emission monitoring.

“There are two key issues in manual stack testing,” said John Tipping, EA regulatory monitoring strategy manager. “One is the organisation needs to meet certain standards and the other is the individual testers need to have the required experience, training and commitment to do the job. “We want to introduce a formal third party endorsement of stack testers and the organisations they work for, under the MCERTS banner.”

The consultation will include draft MCERTS performance standards covering personnel competency at three technical levels based on experience, training and examinations. Competency certificates would be issued by Sira Certification Services, the body appointed to manage the MCERTS certification scheme, in accordance with European Standards EN45013.

Organisations will be accredited on the basis of conformance with requirements covering ethical requirements, personnel, pre-monitoring preparation, standard methods, implementation guidelines and protocols, safety risk assessment, equipment, reporting, quality assurance, proficiency testing and estimation of measure uncertainty.

The need for quality stack testing was a key reason for the establishment of the Source Testing Association, whose help was sought in putting together the new proposals. According to Tipping, the STA ‘endorsement scheme’ for stack testing companies, “goes a long way to helping the development of such a standard and in raising awareness.” Whether STA endorsement will be accepted as a pre-qualifying factor for MCERTS certification will be a question for the certification service itself, he said.

A twelve-week consultation will be followed by 15 months of standards development, with implementation planned for 1 January 2001.

CEMS delays

Certification of the first batch of nine continuous emissions monitors to go through the MCERTS scheme, expected in October last year, is running about a year late.

“The instruments are currently being field tested,” said Tipping, “and we hope to announce certifications late summer”. The problems have mainly been a reflection of the learning curve, said Tipping, “but clearly the intention is to reduce the amount of time it takes to get through the system to about six months.”

Next in line for MCERTS equipment certification will be ambient air monitors. A draft performance stand has been written and is expected to be released for consultation in the summer.

Longer term, the Agency is in early discussions regarding performance standards for portable emissions monitors.

Copies of the consultation paper are available from John Tipping, EA, tel: 01524 842704 or fax: 01524 842709.

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