What OMA means for you

Tony Hoyle, General Manger, ABB’s UK Measurement Products business, explains how utility companies can comply with tighter standards for self-monitoring.

The Environment Agency’s (EA) Operator Monitoring Assessment (OMA) programme is a key part of ensuring industrial operators correctly monitor effluent discharge to the environment.

OMA is one of the main pillars of the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR). Initially it only applied to emissions to air from industrial operations, but now includes discharge to sewers and water. There are four sections:
• Management, training and personnel competence
• Fitness for purpose of monitoring methods
• Maintenance and calibration of monitoring equipment
• Quality assurance of monitoring

Each of the four main sections is further divided into five or six elements, three of which the EA identifies as fundamental:
• Sampling facilities (section 2A)
• Measurement techniques (section 2B)
• Acceptability of calibration methods (section 3F)

In scoring the individual elements, a score of 1 is poor, 3 is acceptable and 5 is excellent. The chief aim is to help operators identify and prioritise necessary improvements, so there is no absolute pass or fail score.

The EA maintains that responsible companies should not suffer from extra costs and can even save money by reducing waste and resource.

Some elements include critical requirements, without which it is impossible to get the highest score. One essential is to use monitoring equipment certified as fit for purpose under the MCERTS scheme. Existing equipment meeting the required measurement standards doesn’t need to be replaced immediately, but new equipment must be purchased from the MCERTS list.

Achieving a high OMA score is also about ensuring equipment is installed, operated and maintained properly and delivers reliable service between inspections.

The gap between OMA inspections can be up to four years, but the EA expects standards to be maintained in the mean time. ABB offers an annual electronic verification of its electromagnetic flow meters, for instance.

In short, there’s plenty of advice and support out there for companies worried about facing OMA for the first time. However, the EA, consultants and equipment suppliers are all ready to help.

The new ABB guide, MCERTS and EPR – a guide to environmental EPR legislation and monitoring systems and services, is ideal for anyone responsible for the monitoring of emissions to air or water at EPR regulated sites. To obtain a copy of the guide, email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com or call 0870 600 6122 ref. ‘MCERTS guide’.

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