As we quickly adjust to the new COVID-19 environment, Parsons Behle & Latimer’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources department (EENR) is actively assisting our clients with multiple issues. One recurring topic is the notification process for any temporary closures caused by safety measures being enacted by our clients or their contractors or required by governmental emergency declarations. Clients should remember to consult their permits as well as any relevant regulations governing suspension of operations. Many of these regulations are written with an enforcement scenario in mind, but others are very specific and may refer to allowances for delays in compliance obligations and contemplate temporary closures, including force majeure provisions that allow delay due to unforeseen circumstances beyond a company’s control. These regulations may require pre- or post-temporary closure, or anticipated unavoidable delay, notifications. For a large and complex operation, this can require poring through multiple permits and regulatory paradigms to assess all notification and reporting obligations.
As staffing becomes a challenge, employees may need to fill multiple roles or new roles, with compressed training time which could cause implications with safety issues like Process Safety Management (PSM), General Duty and others as well as lead to missed monitoring documentation for Title V permits, DMRs for water permits and more. Companies should review manuals and ensure all employees are up to speed on standard operating procedures and know where to find them for positions employees may not normally fill.
Agencies are being very flexible where possible, and we are seeing temporary cessation of certification testing classes and other in-person agency level interactions. A best practice in this trying time if you are facing urgent issues, is to over-communicate with agencies and document your requests by email, at a minimum.
Our attorneys stand ready to assist with whatever issues you may be facing on the Environmental Health and Safety legal front. To discuss these or other related issues, contact: Mike Zody, EENR department chair at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (801) 536-6818; Rick Angell, former EENR department chair at email@example.com or call (801) 536-6754; or Jacob Santini at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (801) 536-6685.