The extension of the certification scheme is intended to ensure high quality data which will be needed to support key regulatory decisions resulting from new legislation in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (see related story) and the Pollution Prevention and Control regulations. As part of the scheme, the Environment Agency intends to compile a register of laboratories whose standards are sufficiently high to achieve qualification.

Although methods for the chemical testing of soils have been developed and published by many organisations, there is generally no guidance on the levels of performance that they should achieve, and whether their performance is appropriate for the assessment of potentially contaminated land, says the Environment Agency.

“Clearly, if we are to make informed quality decisions, these have to be based on reliable analytical data that industry, regulators and the public can have confidence in,” said Dr Mark Kibblewhite, Environment Agency Head of Land Quality.

MCERTS was originally launched by the Environment Agency in 1998, and operates in accordance with European and international monitoring standards. The scheme initially focused on continuous emissions monitoring systems for stacks, but has since been extended to ambient monitoring systems, and is intended to be further expanded to cover issues such as manual stack emissions monitoring, portable emission monitors, and instruments for water analysis, as well as chemical soil testing.

Copies of the technical review document can be obtained from Rosemary Haslam, Environment Agency, National Compliance Assessment Service, Cameron House, White Cross Industrial Estate, South Road, Lancaster LA1 4XQ; or by telephoning 01524 842704; or by email from [email protected]. The technical review period closes on 30 November, and the Environment Agency is hoping to receive as wide a range of views as possible on the proposals, particularly from analytical laboratories, consultancies, relevant trade associations and regulatory organisations.

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