Environment inspections post 1 October 2014

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 5: 2014 

Prior to the creation of a single class of ‘NOPSEMA Inspector’ environmental inspections were constrained in terms of the materials that could be used to monitor titleholder compliance. As of 1 October 2014 Petroleum Environmental Inspections will be undertaken by NOPSEMA inspectors with a suite of powers harmonised with the powers of the former class of OHS inspectors.

In the case of environmental inspections, similar powers and requirements in relation to entering premises, displaying identification and requiring reasonable assistance of titleholder representatives remain. To monitor titleholder compliance, NOPSEMA inspectors may also take photographs and video, conduct tests and ask questions of representatives; depending on the physical location of the inspection (i.e. onshore/offshore).

After an environmental inspection has been conducted, the OPGGS Act now provides for the provision of a Petroleum Environmental Inspection Report. The report will include the inspector’s conclusions and reasoning, along with any recommendations, and is issued to the titleholder. Titleholders will now be required to respond to recommendations within a timeframe determined by NOPSEMA to set out any proposed actions that will be taken in response. Inspection recommendations will feature as a consistent topic scope for future inspections to allow NOPSEMA to track recommendations to closure.

Additional offence provisions and enforcement options such as environmental improvement notices and environmental prohibition notices have also been introduced which are analogous with OHS provisions. For more information see Schedule 2A of the OPGGS Act as introduced by the OPGGS Amendment (Compliance Measures) Act 2013.

NOPSEMA’s Environmental inspections policy (PDF 218KB) has recently been updated to reflect the changes above and include risk based targets for inspection frequency.