14 April 2020

EPA Leaves COVID-19 Decision-Making for On-Site Cleanup Work to Regional Offices

On April 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released guidance to its regional offices regarding how on-site cleanup work may be adjusted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance supplements an internal agency guidance, issued in March by the Office of Land and Emergency Management. EPA had issued guidance on enforcement discretion on March 26 that explicitly excluded the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) activities. The new guidance applies to cleanup and emergency response sites EPA directly oversees or is responsible for under the RCRA and the CERCLA.

As discussed in further detail here, in the new guidance, the agency continues its approach from the March guidance recommending case-by-case decision-making at individual sites on whether to continue, reduce or pause field work. The agency also outlines site-specific factors regional offices should consider in their decision-making. EPA encourages parties performing the cleanup to regularly communicate the status of their sites and “any anticipated challenges and mitigation measures” to agency project managers.