April 10, 2020
Source: EPA Press Office
WASHINGTON (April 10, 2020) " Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued interim guidance to the Agency s regional offices to ensure that decisions about new or ongoing cleanup activities at sites across the country are made with the health and safety of communities, state and tribal partners, EPA staff, and contractors as the priority.
The interim guidance focuses on decision making at emergency response and longer term cleanups sites where EPA is the lead agency or has direct oversight of, or responsibility for, the cleanup work. This includes, but is not limited to, Superfund cleanups, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective actions, Toxic Substance and Control Act PCB cleanups, Oil Pollution Act spill responses, and Underground Storage Tank Program actions. In addition, EPA is sharing this guidance with states to take into consideration as they encounter similar issues at state-lead RCRA cleanup sites.
"EPA remains committed to protecting human health and the environment as we continue to adjust to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "This guidance will allow us to keep workers and the residents in these communities safe while also being able to respond to any emergency that may present an imminent danger to the public health or welfare."
EPA will, as appropriate, update this guidance as the current situation with COVID-19 evolves.
Guidance for EPA Regional Offices on Field Work Decisions at Cleanup Sites
To address the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation, EPA is making decisions about continuing, reducing, or pausing on-site activities on a case-by-case basis consistent with the following priorities:
This same approach will apply to EPA s decision making related to requests from outside parties engaged in cleanup and response sites (e.g., states, tribes, local governments, other federal agencies, other parties, property owners, etc.) for extensions or delays in performance. These decisions will be made in accordance with any existing agreements or enforcement instruments.
The interim guidance issued today also includes directions to the Agency s regional offices on the following:
In addition, it is recommended that Superfund site teams cancel or postpone in-person public meeting events, door-to-door visits, and other site-related face to face interactions to be consistent with current COVID-19 guidance from the CDC and other federal, state, tribal and local officials. We fully encourage EPA staff to keep in contact with affected communities using virtual and other communication tools such as on-line meetings, webinars, conference calls, and call-in numbers, as well as fact sheets, postcards, phone, and social media.