When the Environmental Protection Agency comes for a surprise inspection, make sure your plant has a preplanned approach ready to handle them. To make an inspection successful, you must express to the EPA the three Cs: concern, cooperation, and commitment. A show of top on-site management is important to let the EPA know that your company is concerned about the inspection and about environmental compliance.
First, take the inspectors to a conference room for a brief preinspection briefing. Explain to the inspectors what your business does and how you do it in an environmentally safe way. Make sure you have a preplanned tour scenario that focuses on the environmentally positive aspects of your operation, but be prepared to show specific sites that the inspectors might specify. During the inspection, you should assign one member of management to accompany each inspector to make mental notes of everything the inspector sees, does and says, and to answer questions. Be prepared to go over records with the inspectors. If records are not available, the EPA may take enforcement action against your company. Inspectors may ask questions for which answers are not readily available and request that you send them the information. Do so quickly and concisely to continue building goodwill.
Afterwards, you should meet with the other management personnel who took part in the inspection for a post-inspection debriefing. Record everyone's comments and general impressions in a memorandum, and use it to formulate your responses to the inspection. If and when the EPA contacts you again, your company will be ready.