The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) have issued temporary enforcement guidelines in response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EPA’s guidance includes additional discretion to personnel in civil enforcement and expresses a deference to state and local implementation of programs. Enforcement of accidental discharges and criminal infractions remains unchanged. (Link to EPA guidance.)
EEC issued three documents temporarily amending requirements for solid waste and recycling operation, wastewater and water operator certifications, and air monitoring and asbestos certification/accreditation renewals during the state of emergency.
Solid Waste – During the state of emergency, solid waste management facility hours of operation may be adjusted, daily tonnage limits are waived, transfer station and recycling facility storage time limits are waived, and comingling of yard waste and recyclables is authorized. All necessary records reflecting these changes must be maintained and submitted to EEC as required. Other requests for flexibility in operations will be addressed by EEC on a case-by-case basis. All other permit and regulatory requirements remain in effect, including limits on proper operation and total permitted airspace. These provisions do not apply to local requirements, including compliance with local host agreements and local ordinances.
Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification –The normal approval process for wastewater and drinking water emergency staffing is waived for situations that are the result of COVID-19 illness, quarantine, or social distancing. Should such an emergency situation arise, a notice to implement and request for technical assistance must be submitted to EEC Division of Water. Similarly, late fees on drinking water certification renewals are waived and certification periods extended.
Air Monitoring Certification and Asbestos Accreditation Renewals – The memorandum temporarily grants, with some exceptions, a limited grace period for U.S. EPA Reference Method 9 (Visual Opacity Monitoring) training certifications for existing certified personnel. The memorandum further temporarily grants a limited grace period for required proof of training for asbestos accreditation renewals. A similar grace period is provided for asbestos abatement contractors seeking to update company certifications.