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ISO 14000: Goals and Potential Roadblocks

Spring 1996

In 1996, the International Standards Organization ("ISO") will finalize the ISO 14000.

The ISO 14000 is a generalized methodology and set of goals for implementing an environmental compliance program into the overall management system of a business’ operations.

It is likely that ISO 14000 will be implemented in the United States by businesses receiving certification after an appropriate environmental audit (and upgrading, if necessary) by a certified environmental professional. These environmental reviewers will in turn be registered by a public/private registrar, most likely the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The ISO 14000 will involve what is essentially a voluntary or market-driven environmental compliance review of a business. While new USEPA and state level voluntary disclosure policies are attempting to provided some assurance to business that they will not risk enforcement for conducting a voluntary review of their facility, it is likely that any such policies will continue to require diligent investigation and full disclosure of existing and/or latent environmental problems. A business may want to consider conducting "initial reviews" under an attorney-client relationship so as to protect information gathered from discovery and the potential liability associated with non-disclosure/non-compliance.

Environmental professionals, consultants, and the businesses they work for, must be aware of the legal ramifications of ISO 14000, and will want to advise clients with a cautious eye towards those issues.

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