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April 2020

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection: COVID-19 Guidance For Waste Site Cleanup Activities

April 9, 2020

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MassDEP) Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup (BWSC) is continuing to operate during the State of Emergency and closure of brick and mortar locations. Along with Licensed Site Professionals and other workers supporting hazardous material response and cleanup, certain MassDEP staff are considered Essential service providers under COVID-19 Order No. 13.

While most staff are working remotely, the Emergency Response staff remain on duty 24/7, and the BWSC management team is continuing to hold meetings with stakeholders by video. Most recently, MassDEP issued Guidance outlining expectations related to regulatory remediation requirements and site work during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

Release Notifications

There are no accepted delays for required notifications for all two-hour, 72-hour and 120-day release conditions, notifications are typically made by telephone. The remediation clock for all releases will continue to start with MassDEP’s issuance of a Release Tracking Numbers or RTNs will continued to be assigned.

Immediate Response Actions

Emergency Response staff continue to respond to verbal notifications and to issue oral approvals for Immediate Response Action Plans (“IRA Plan”). Persons conducting response actions and their LSP should use this opportunity to discuss any concerns about how social distancing and other responses to the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the nature or timing of necessary activities.

While the Governor tolled all constructive approval deadlines, MassDEP indicates that it is meeting the IRA 21 day approval period in the regulations, and should it fail to meet that date, it will consider the IRA Plan approved.

BWSC 121: Notification of Delay

Should work be delayed by postponed field work, reduced staffing, or other COVID-19 related interruptions, parties should notify MassDEP of the compliance delay in writing, include the deadline(s) that will be missed, and any measures, if applicable, taken to secure the disposal site during the period of work stoppage. Form BWSC 121 is available on its website and is used for such notifications. During the State of Emergency MassDEP BWSC indicates that it intends to exercise enforcement discretion for failure to meet deadlines for routine submittal.

Active Remedial Systems

Generally, such systems with air or surface water discharges should continue to be monitored in compliance with permit and/or regulatory requirements, to the extent circumstances allow? If circumstances do not allow for sufficient?monitoring to ensure that discharges do not result in adverse impacts, parties and their LSP should consider suspending these operations unless such termination itself would result in an Imminent Hazard.

Active Exposure Pathway Mitigation Measures (AEPMMs)

Generally, MassDEP expects systems addressing vapor intrusion into buildings or a private drinking water supplies to continue to be operated during this period. If AEPMMs addressing Imminent Hazard conditions should continue to be monitored for effectiveness, with consideration eing given to minimizing potential COVID-19 exposure to response staff or building occupants.? In the absence of a potential Imminent Hazard condition, monitoring that entails home or business entry should be suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency.

Securing Disposal Sites

Covers: Where remedial actions and/or construction activities were underway Stockpiles of Remediation Waste should be stored on and securely covered with reinforced poly sheeting that is weighted down (e.g., with cinder blocks or sandbags) around the perimeter and across the stockpile. Consideration should be given to flattening the stockpiles to the extent practical before covering and fencing if in residential neighborhoods.

Dust monitoring: May be suspended during the shutdown period provided, dust monitoring may be suspended at sites shutdown due to the State of Emergency, provided no there are no large areas of exposed contaminated soil and all Remediation Waste stockpiles are covered and secured.

Excavations: Should be backfilled as soon as practicable or covered with steel plates and fenced. MassDEP’s guidance is intended to address common situations related to regulatory response actions during the State of Emergency.

If your site presents unique conditions, be sure to discuss with your environmental law professional and contact the appropriate Regional Office with any questions.

Visit our COVID-19 Hub for Ongoing Updates.

Environmental/Toxic Tort

Environmental/Toxic Tort