Environmental Remediation During Coronavirus

T. Slack Environmental Services is a COVID-Compliant Essential Business

Although many businesses have been forced to shut down, many environmental remediation issues and site decontamination must be managed and addressed quickly.   As New Jersey businesses continue to navigate the ever-changing and reinterpreted COVID-19 regulations, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued vaguely worded guidance* that deemed “providers of environmental services” as a segment of the business sector that cannot perform services remotely. According to the NJDEP, they acknowledge that “essential on-site staffing determinations will differ by [ . . . ] operational circumstances” and that individual providers “must consider arrangements that further the social distancing requirements and objectives” put forth by the governor to reduce the spread of the disease. 

What This Means To Your Business

Essentially, the NJDEP recognizes that environmental remediation is an essential service and is, in many cases, time-critical. It is a process that requires a variety of workers working closely and moving freely about a site and also requires several entities to transfer materials and come and go to and from a work area. However, the NJDEP also requires that the business owner follow all social distancing protocols and implement, as much as possible, strategies to prevent the spread of COVID. Unfortunately, they provide scant guidance on those strategies and offer little advice that is practical while working on environmental remediation projects. And, failure to adhere to guidelines can lead to costly site shutdowns and stop-work orders.

Communication is Key

In such an environment, frequent communication between business and landowners, environmental remediation providers, attorneys, and the NJDEP is crucial. All parties should be aware of changing or updated state guidance, the provider’s measures to implement safety protocols, evolving and evolving changes at the worksite that could impact work health. 

Steps to Take in Meeting NJ State Guidance

Because the guidance is so vague and the consequences of non-compliance so strict, demonstrating good faith towards the requirements not only protects workers, it also enacts a positive relationship with governing entities. Here are a few best practices for successful operation of a remediation site during COVID-19:

  • Make the NJDEP aware of any site issues or concerns before you start work and as they arise. The state is eager to keep businesses running safely and at this time are open to allowing extensions or accommodations to ensure health safety.
  • Prepare a Stop Work Plan. In the event of stricter regulations that prevent work and a health-related shut-down, create a plan to efficiently exit the project and provide for site safety while work is ceased.
  • Communicate with property neighbors and make them aware of any potential impact to their property or residences. This will prevent allow adjacent neighbors to prepare for any interruptions to services and prevent nuisance calls. 
  • Contact local police. If a nuisance call should be made, they will be aware of the scope of work and its purpose, possibly preventing a police visit to the site.
  • Provide all site employees with a company letter naming them as essential employees under New Jersey Executive 107 and stating that they are completing work that cannot be accomplished remotely.

T. Slack Environmental Services is a family-owned business with over 30 years of experience in environmental engineering, construction, and support services. Our goal is to ensure that our clients’ projects comply with regulatory policies as we minimize the risks associated with poor waste management practices and offer a cost-effective program tailored to fit the individualized needs of your business. Call us at (908) 964-5360.

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