EPA Issues Temporary Enforcement Discretion Policy During COVID-19 Health Crisis

March 30, 2020

EPA issued a temporary enforcement policy related to civil non-compliance events attributable to COVID-19. EPA recognizes that responses to the pandemic:

…may affect facility operations, and the availability of key staff and contractors and the ability of laboratories to timely analyze samples and provide results. As a result, there may be constraints on the ability of a facility or laboratory to carry out certain activities required by our federal environmental permits, regulations, and statutes. These consequences may affect reporting obligations and milestones set forth in settlements and consent decrees. Finally, these consequences may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water.

EPA will provide enforcement discretion for civil infractions, as described in the policy, provided certain conditions are met, including:

  1. Entities should make every effort to comply with their environmental compliance obligations.
  2. If compliance is not reasonably practicable, facilities should:
  3. Act responsibly under the circumstances to minimize the effects and duration of any non-compliance caused by COVID-19;
  4. Identify the specific nature and dates of the non-compliance;
  5. Identify how COVID-19 was the cause of the non-compliance, and the decisions and actions taken are in response, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity;
  6. Return to compliance as soon as possible; and
  7. Document the information, action, or condition specified in a through d.

 

The policy also details when reporting of non-compliance is required and addresses specific issues of importance to waste generation, including circumstances when storing hazardous waste beyond generator deadlines.

The policy will apply retroactively to March 13.

March 27, 2020, EPA Memo.

 

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Posted by Diane Samuels at 11:56 am
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