Position Profile


Job Title:  Environmental Protection Officer (EPO)

Work Unit:  Operations/Lower Athabasca Region/Compliance

Ministry:   Alberta Environment and Parks

Competition Number:  1042607

Date:  May 2017
 

Purpose

 

Reporting to the Compliance Assurance Lead this position is a full working level position that, in addition to their regular duties, will also assist and/or coach junior staff in performing their duties and will act as a technical resource for colleagues, associates and outside agencies.

This position is complex and requires a highly specialized technical professional. They are responsible for the delivery of an assortment of services to industry, municipalities, varying levels of government, and to the Alberta public and requires balancing the technical component of environmental compliance with the desired outcomes of the compliance program delivery. These services are largely associated with the administration of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Public Lands Act and the Water Act but are not limited only to these pieces of legislation. This position requires advanced communication, facilitation, time-management, and technical knowledge and skills.

Responsibilities and Activities

  1.

Emergency Response

The Environmental Protection Officer has a regional function as an Emergency Regional Responder working with the Coordination of Information Centre and the ASERT Duty Officer. On an on-call rotational basis, the EPO receives, prioritizes and responds to environmental emergencies.

  • Independent of weather conditions, location or time of day, there is an expectation for the on-call responder to receive and immediately respond to environmental incidents. There is an after hours component to these duties where the primary responder is expected to represent the department. Considerable interaction is required with the public, the regulated sector and other response agencies on scene at an emergency.
  • While responding to environmental incidents, the EPO will be required to execute response and preparedness plans to meet the department’s goals. The EPO is also the department’s representative, responsible for participating in/maintaining incident command in a multi-agency situation. Participation in mock scenarios and ER exercises is required.
  • The EPO will assist and mentor other staff in the delivery of regulatory presentations to train and orient external agencies as required.
  • An understanding of risk analysis as it relates to environmental emergencies I required.
  • Maintain ITS database on environmental emergencies and reports. Position will be responsible to operate an Emergency Response Vehicle as per department standards and policies.
     
  2.

Complaint/Incident Response

This position will receive and respond to public inquiries and complaints, and industry contravention notifications to determine whether non-compliance exists, assess the environmental impact of the activity, ensure a high level of environmental protection, and minimize risk to the environment, human health and safety.

  • Prioritize public complaints and notifications to determine appropriate response.
  • Determine the validity of complaints though site visits, phone conversations and other investigation. Maintain accurate field notes, photographs, and electronic records (EMS) to document findings.
  • Liaise with other federal, provincial and municipal regulators (AER, NRCB, EC, DFO etc.) and others on matters that related to environmental issues where regulatory overlap or referral is indicated.
  • Exercise independent judgment on assessment of alleged contraventions, and determines whether to abate or forward for potential enforcement action.
  • Follow-up on identified non-compliance activities to ensure that appropriate preventative, intervention and/or remedial measures have been undertaken.
  • Closure of files once a resolution has been obtained.
     
  3.

Inspections and Monitoring Program.

This position will conduct independent compliance inspections of EPEA and Water Act regulated industrial/municipal facilities to meet the objectives of the Compliance Assurance Program. The inspections are focused at higher risk, more complex facilities and are often multimedia in nature. Inspections can be proactive or reactive and may involve both regulated and non-regulated activities.

  • Inspections include preliminary review of files/applications, compliance history, auditing records, liaison with approvals staff, preparation of inspection plan and sampling equipment.
  • Carry out proactive, unannounced compliance inspections of facilities regulated by approvals, registrations or authorizations issued under EPEA or the Water Act.
  • Inspection would include interviewing, note taking, assessing and determining compliance with legislation, approvals and standards including communicating areas of non-compliance with industry officials.
  • Prepare letters and inspection reports and perform follow up action as required and forward non-compliance item for possible enforcement action to an investigator as required.
  • Has the authority to issue Notices of Non-compliance.
  • Collect and analyze information from varied and numerous sources to determine compliance, resolve problems and make recommendations to improve environmental practices. This may involve interpreting anecdotal and technical information provided by the stakeholder.
  • Liaise with other regulatory agencies such as the AER, NRCB and others on matters related to environmental issues where there is regulatory overlap or referral is indicated.
  • Provide verbal and written communication to complainants and other stakeholders to explain the outcome of related inspections and interpret regulatory requirements.
  • Provide technical assistance on investigations within the region as requested.
     
  4.

Educational/training programs and initiatives.

This position will seek compliance partnerships with industry, municipalities, stakeholders and the public to achieve the desired environmental objectives and seek ways to achieve continuous improvement and innovation to enhance environmental outcomes for low risk activities in Alberta.

  • Build capacity and the willingness in the regulated community to achieve compliance through an educational approach and improving stewardship practices.
  • Identifying and addressing potential problems before they cause an environmental impact.
  • Participate in school presentations, workshop presentations, internal staff training, community events such as fairs, trade shows etc.
     
  5.

Compliance Sweeps

This position will organize and conduct proactive sweeps for the department under its compliance assurance program. The purposes of sweeps are to educate the public, ensure compliance under the EPEA and Water Act, raise environment awareness, promote environmental stewardship, and address potential or specific problem areas that have been identified.

  • Work with the regional and/or compliance managers to identify outcome focused sweeps.
  • Determine the type and location for the sweep.
  • Research/highlight “facilities of interest”.
  • Oversee the planning, preparation, and execution of the sweep.
  • Provide leadership and co-ordinate the personnel to be involved in the sweep.
  • Liaise with other government agencies, municipalities, towns, and bylaw enforcement individuals that may/will be involved in the sweep.
  • Prepare information packages, educational material and/or fact sheets and compile relevant legislative material, required for the sweep.
  • Participate in the sweep by carrying out inspections, interviews of individuals and/or industry representatives.
  • Participate in post sweep follow-up to ensure compliance or refer to Compliance Manager or investigator as required.
  • Facilitate debriefing of activities during/after the sweep, generate post sweep reports and present results, including KPI data.
     
  6.

Administration of Orders

The Water Act, Public Lands Act and EPEA provide for the issuance of orders to prevent and/or correct adverse effects on the environment, public lands, natural resources, human health, property, and/or public safety. These orders can be issued to regulated parties undertaking activities subject to authorizations or they can be issued in relation to non-authorized activities. This position will ensure the timely and properly supported use of the various Orders provided for by the legislation.

  • Identify and compile the facts at issue required to create an order.
  • Organize the facts at issue for presentation to management and Environmental Law.
  • Ensure issuance of the Order by the proper authority.
  • Manage compliance with the Order by the recipient.
  • In the event of non-compliance with an Order, ensure the proper process for further Departmental response is understood and followed to encourage/enforce compliance.
     
  7.

Investigation

This position will receive, assess, prioritize and investigate public complaints, regulatory referrals and industrial/municipal non-compliance. This position will also investigate issues of non-compliance triaged for investigation through the Integrated Compliance Process. The position uses legislative authorities, departmental policies, understanding of approval conditions and environmental effects to conduct thorough investigations and gather evidence of contraventions. Typical investigation files will include offences at unregulated facilities or complex regulated facilities, repeat offences and those requiring orders.

  • Conduct in-depth examinations of corporate documentation, manifests, approvals, invoices, ledgers, equipment and operating records, while seeking evidence that corroborates or refutes alleged non-compliance that will pass the scrutiny of the courts.
  • Identify, locate and interview witnesses, complainants, industry representatives and suspects. The EPO may encounter hostile individuals and threatening situations.
  • Through various legislated authorities, enter public or private land, and buildings to secure evidence of alleged contraventions. Ensure that evidence is properly preserved, secured and handled to maintain integrity and chain of custody. May co-ordinate a search warrant team when necessary.
  • Sample a wide array of substances, and submit them for analysis, to determine level of toxicity or hazard to environment and public health using proper protocols, to ensure the results will be accepted as evidence.
  • Gather and analyze information on known and suspected violators of environmental legislation from a variety of sources (i.e. regulatory agencies, police departments, corporate and land title searches, informants, vehicle registrations). May conduct covert surveillance activities when necessary to obtain evidence.
  • Has authority to issue Emergency Environmental Protection Orders, Violation Tickets, Enforcement Orders Stop Orders and other legal instruments, and will apply or recommend appropriate enforcement action to the Compliance Manager.
  • Prepare and assist with enforcement actions and prosecutions of violators by providing comprehensive issues documents, administrative penalty packages and court briefs. Must liaise with crown counsel, serve legal documents and appear in court as investigator/lead witness.
  • Will provide guidance and direction on investigations conducted by entry level staff.

Scope

 

This Position is considered an expert and functions within a consultative environment for the Department, industry, municipalities, elected officials and the public regarding the application and enforcement of legislation.

This position is the front line departmental representative for terrestrial, atmospheric and water related environmental incidents and complaints, and assurance that the stakeholders meet their responsibilities, under environmental legislation. The position requires extensive application of the legislation, departmental policy and technical expertise to assess remedial measures and recommend further regulatory action. The EPO must consider numerous factors associated with the management of waste and water, and the quality of the water, air and soil. Factors also extend beyond the legislation and departmental policies to technical time frames and compliance with other legislation. EPO must collect and analyze information from varied and numerous sources to determine compliance, resolve problems, and make recommendations. This may involve interpreting anecdotal and technical information provided by the stakeholder. Stakeholders attitudes range from professional, open-minded and unbiased to unreceptive, confrontational emotionally charged, or biased. The EPO 2 must remain objective, non-judgemental and consistent when making observations, providing information and making recommendations to clearly show that the department is fair and considerate in attaining its goals.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

 

This position is one of leadership and provides a conduit between management and stakeholders. Must have good people skills and the ability to forge a strong team within work unit. Will be required to mentor within a work unit and therefore requires extensive related knowledge of: related legislation (EPEA and Water Act), investigative processes and techniques, department policies and procedures as well as other legislative acts.

Prepare observations, reports, and documents for the groundwork for enforcement action. EPO 2s may also assist in the preparation of documents for enforcement action.

Requires advanced knowledge base of the practices and technologies involved in soil conservation, reclamation, vegetation management, waste-management and pesticide application methods.

Requires a broad range of knowledge in applied sciences and related environmental legislation and regulations. Typically requires a related technical diploma.

Knowledge and ability to collect environmental samples, from a variety of media and sources using standard protocols. Ability to interpret, and apply analytical results to determine non-compliance and adverse effect.

Knowledge of inspection techniques, including note taking, photography, legislated powers, interviewing etc.

Judgement is required to interpret legislation and regulations during investigation and enforcement activities. While guidelines are well documented, circumstances can vary significantly.

Position is focused on activities that enforce environmental legislation and regulations. Can issue fines for more straightforward activities and collects evidence for a legal case in complex situations.

Contacts

 

Contacts are internal and external to the department. Internal contacts are other staff, managers, and human resources. External contacts can be from other enforcement agencies, other government’s (municipal, federal and other provincial jurisdictions), industry, operators, members of the public or other interest groups.

Supervision Exercised

 

Although direct supervision may not be a full-time requirement, this position requires leadership/coaching ability within the work unit to act as a Field Training Officer for wage and temporary salary positions from time to time. The expectation is for the person in this position to have the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience to mentor those working in his/her unit, and to lead by example.


 

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