Archives: Incident Response

Environment, Health & Safety incident response

Subscribe to Incident Response RSS Feed

Keeping it Clean: OSHA, CDC, and state-agency guidance explains how employers can help stop spread of COVID-19

Many businesses are reopening their doors as states lift closure orders. While a plan to reopen will look different for each company, all employers should ensure they are taking appropriate cleaning and safety measures to reduce possible exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recommended several measures … Continue Reading

States sue EPA over COVID-19 enforcement policy

Following on from our recent post regarding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy and the controversy surrounding it , on May 13, 2020, seven states brought an action in the Southern District of New York against the EPA to challenge the agency policy under which the EPA has stated it “will not” enforce a wide range … Continue Reading

Post pandemic drafting with governmental authorities: Force Majeure clauses in consent agreements

On May 5, 2020, The New York Times (NYT) reported under the heading “Here come the busted deals,” that L Brands, majority owner of Victoria’s Secret, who had a seemingly airtight case for selling a majority stake in Victoria’s Secret, had agreed to let the buyer, Sycamore Partners, walk. L Brands agreed to let Sycamore … Continue Reading

Companies Beware: Will EPA ramp up mandated ‘clean up’ as part of perceived economic ‘stimulus’ package?

Post COVID-19 stay-at-home orders (SAHO) – and as we go back to “normal” – what is the likelihood of a sudden resurgence in new or deferred Superfund cleanups, and associated construction? It is impossible to ignore that fact (and EPA must be aware of it) that construction jobs can and will be important to economic … Continue Reading

ICYMI: Major April U.S. Supreme Court Environmental Decisions

1) Superfund deals don’t block state-law claims On April 20, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued an opinion allowing Montana residents to maintain state-law claims against a company for a Superfund site that is already covered by a settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).… Continue Reading

Returning to work safely

Previously shuttered businesses and offices are gearing up to reopen as many states are beginning to lift closure orders.  Each employer will need to determine when it is legally permitted to reopen based upon state and local mandates.  While plans to reopen will vary widely from state to state and company to company, all employers … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania continues to enforce all environmental laws and regulations during COVID-19 pandemic

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it will continue to enforce all environmental laws and regulation for the duration of the state’s COVID-19 disaster duration. This policy takes a much stricter stance on environmental obligations than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) temporary policy of enforcement discretion issued on March 26, 2020. … Continue Reading

In the midst of COVID-19, attorneys general of 18 States urge stronger EPA Action on PFAS

Last Friday, April 17, the attorneys general of New York, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin filed a comment letter with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to take more comprehensive actions regarding per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (collectively, … Continue Reading

TCEQ implementing a more tailored case-by-case enforcement policy than the U.S. EPA in response to COVID-19

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced that it will exercise enforcement discretion on a case-by-case basis as opposed to the EPA’s broader temporary enforcement policy issued on March 26, 2020. Under its more tailored approach, the TCEQ has not relaxed any limits on air emissions or discharges to water. Similarly, the TCEQ has … Continue Reading

DOJ: civil penalty obligations temporarily suspended

In conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) move to relax enforcement efforts, and despite criticism of the EPA’s move, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has suspended collection of civil penalty payments for six weeks – until at least May 31, 2020 – in a move that could be a demonstration that federal government … Continue Reading

COVID-19 induced force majeure applied to environmental obligations

As governments and health authorities institute increasingly strict responses to COVID-19, companies worldwide face unprecedented challenges in meeting their otherwise “business as usual” contractual and regulatory obligations. While these challenges span all areas of business, this post focuses on particular environmental obligations and associated risks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently instituted a temporary … Continue Reading

California environmental agencies less flexible than U.S. EPA re enforcement policy in response to COVID-19

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown some flexibility in enforcement of environmental regulatory obligations during the outbreak of COVID-19, at this stage in the pandemic, California will not typically excuse noncompliance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 26, 2020, the EPA issued a memorandum implementing a temporary enforcement discretion policy due … Continue Reading

EPA response actions during COVID-19: Continue, reduce, or suspend?

There are many types of cleanup occurring across the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic under a range of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorities, including, but not limited to, the Superfund program, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act corrective action, Toxic Substances Control Act polychlorinated biphenyl cleanup provisions, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Underground Storage … Continue Reading

Novel coronavirus – How employers should dispose of personal protective equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) have issued various guidance regarding potential workplace hazards resulting from exposure to COVID-19 (see our recent client alert for more information). Most recently, on April 3, 2020, OSHA issued enforcement guidance to all industries indicating that respiratory protection … Continue Reading

EPA responds to criticisms of its new temporary enforcement discretion policy

In response to the backlash regarding the EPA’s implementation of a temporary enforcement discretion policy, the EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, described the temporary policy as “very mild” in comparison to the agency’s actions in prior crises. On March 26, 2020, the EPA issued a memorandum implementing a temporary enforcement discretion policy due to the coronavirus … Continue Reading

Force majeure as a shield for governmental enforcement in a post-COVID-19 world: putting your company in the best position vis-a-vis force majeure clauses in agreements with governmental agencies  

In these unprecedented days, you read a lot about force majeure and “act of God” defenses to commercial contract publications. Companies affected by the current pandemic are looking to contract terms to minimize their financial losses as the pandemic forces closures and cancellations, and productivity drops off in many industries. This post addresses a small … Continue Reading

EPA announces new temporary enforcement discretion policy

In an unprecedented move, today (March 26, 2020) EPA issued a memorandum to its governmental and private sector partners about its new temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The memo states the EPA will exercise its enforcement discretion for noncompliance covered by temporary policy and resulting from the … Continue Reading

OSHA and Cal/OSHA issue coronavirus guidance

Earlier this month, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published information on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hazard recognition, medical information, potentially applicable OSHA standards, control and prevention, and additional resources. The guidance notes that without sustained human-to-human transmission, most U.S. workers remain at low risk of exposure and infection. However, OSHA has identified commonsense … Continue Reading

CSB proposes rule on accidental release reporting

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB or Agency) recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its accidental reporting rule in the Federal Register (Proposed Rule). The CSB was established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which directed the Agency, among other things, to investigate and report on any accidental release “resulting in … Continue Reading

EPA again rolls back Obama Administration RMP regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a reconsideration rule rescinding many of the agency’s changes and additions made during the Obama administration to strengthen the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations that address facilities using highly hazardous chemicals. This rulemaking follows the D.C. Circuit’s decision in 2018 that the EPA’s previous effort to rescind … Continue Reading

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee votes unanimously to approve Dr. Katherine Lemos to head the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

On September 25, 2019, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) voted unanimously to approve Dr. Katherine A. Lemos, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). Dr. Lemos’ nomination will now advance to the full Senate for confirmation.… Continue Reading

Important questions left unanswered as rare ECJ case rules that debris from a fire on board a ship is excluded from international shipment of waste rules

This blog post provides a brief commentary on the transboundary movement of waste case of Conti 11 v. the Land of Lower Saxony, Germany (Case C689-17). The law on the international shipment of waste is of increasing importance to many global businesses. The Reed Smith Environmental, Health & Safety team regularly handles cases on this subject involving … Continue Reading

Broader focus on environmental and safety crimes as Harris County announces new charges against Arkema

Following last year’s indictments of Arkema Inc. (Arkema) CEO Richard Rowe and plant manager Leslie Comardelle, a Texas grand jury recently indicted Mike Keough, Arkema’s Vice President of Logistics, in connection with allegations that Arkema failed to provide adequate emergency response information to response officials. Along with this indictment, recent charges against Intercontinental Terminals Company … Continue Reading
LexBlog