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The Environment Agency’s (EA’s) MCERTS certification scheme is intended to help process operators bring environmental monitoring in line with existing EA emissions-monitoring requirements.

The scheme is designed to set a benchmark of performance that is expected by the EA from instrument manufacturers, laboratories and process operators.

Within the emissions-to-air scheme, set up in 1996, product certification for continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) and continuous ambient air-monitoring systems (CAMS) is well established.

Certified: more than 500 people are registered on the emissions-to-air monitoring scheme

There is currently a choice of more than 130 certified products and, according to Sira (the certification body that operates the MCERTS schemes on behalf of the EA), the CEMS MCERTS standard is now equivalent to the European standard EN 15267.

The personnel certification aspect of the emissions-to-air monitoring scheme is also very developed, with more than 500 people registered on the scheme as level-one or level-two stack testers, according to Sira.

“Both the operators and equipment producers can realise the financial benefits of MCERTS certification”

MCERTS for water monitoring is a more recent addition the first four product conformity certificates being issued in 2005. Product certification for emissions-to-water devices is split into three parts: for automatic samplers, online analytical equipment and flowmeters. There is a separate standard for portable water-monitoring equipment.

Up until relatively recently, there were slightly more than 30 product-conformity certificates for water-monitoring equipment across the three equipment types. This limited availability had hampered the EA drive to enforce compliance with the MCERTS emissions-to-water scheme.

However, Sira is now pointing to significant growth in the number of MCERTS devices coming on the market in line, it said, with increased interest from manufacturers and process operators.

At the recent biennial WWEM (Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring) conference in November, ATi, Siris Environmental, Detectronic, Endress and Hauser, OTT Hydrometry, KROHNE, Pulsar, YSI, Aquamatic and Siemens Milltronics were presented with MCERTS certificates for water-monitoring instruments.

The number of certificates is likely to exceed 50 by the end of 2011, according to Sira, which is currently working with more than a dozen manufacturers that are currently undergoing certification. These include BioTector Analytical Systems, Endress and Hauser, GE Water and Process Technologies, Hach Lange and Nivus.

The certification body also points out that some manufacturers prefer to cover a complete product range on one certificate. Aquamatic, for example, includes a range of 14 portable and stationery wastewater samplers on a single certificate. The number of certified products is therefore considerably more than the number of certificates issued.

Process plant owners/operators, meanwhile, still have a significant incentive to install MCERT devices or push their suppliers to introduce them under the EA’s Operator Monitoring Assessment (OMA) scheme. This has been introduced to strengthen the Agency’s auditing of self-monitoring arrangements for industrial processes covered by the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR).

Further progress has been made on another MCERTS scheme. The self-monitoring of effluent flow scheme has seen rapid growth in recent years. To date, more than 250 industrial sites and 3,600 sewage works have been certified. Some considerable cost savings are being reported by industrial operators as a result of the scheme’s introduction.

’A high OMA score can be obtained by process operators by installing MCERTS products, or by using MCERTS services,’ explained a Sira spokesperson. ’Therefore, both the operators and equipment manufacturers can realise the financial benefits of MCERTS certification.’

Another MCERTS initiative is being developed for Environmental Data Management Software a formal scheme for the certification of data-management applications, covering both emissions to air and emissions to water.