As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, the NSW EPA has assured industry it will continue to fulfil its responsibilities as the state’s primary environmental regulator, while maintaining the health and safety of staff, communities and other partners.
According to an EPA statement, the authority has a business continuity plan in place, which is being reviewed regularly in light of the most up-to-date advice.
“That includes planning to allow staff to work remotely where appropriate so that we maintain our compliance, enforcement and pollution response activities as best we can to prevent environmental and community harm,” the statement reads.
“We will continue to require compliance with licence conditions and issue clean-up notices and prevention notices where necessary. The EPA may however, consider requests for exemptions on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.”
The EPA is strongly recommending waste and environmental management businesses implement their own continuity plans, if one is not already in place.
“That plan should take into account the updated advice being provided by NSW and Commonwealth health officials, including any sector-specific advice,” the statement reads.
“Now is also the right time to check you have everything in place to enact your pollution incident response management plan.”
A continuity plan will help businesses meet responsibilities for any environmental impacts from activities, as according to the EPA, licence conditions and other regulatory responsibilities remain in place.
“These include the priority responsibilities of maintaining and operating pollution control equipment, and storing, transporting and disposing of waste appropriately,” the statement reads.
Licensees in the waste industry should maintain good communications with clients and the EPA, the statement suggests, particularly around predicted service disruptions.
“Licensees must continue to notify the NSW EPA of pollution incidents and other regulatory or compliance issues or events,” it reads.