The Ohio EPA is giving companies and governments flexibility in testing and reporting during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 133 requests at the time of a Dispatch records request, none was denied. Some were still under review.
Amid the response to the coronavirus pandemic, state and federal environmental regulators have allowed companies and local governments flexibility with compliance.
That could mean turning in a completed report past its deadline, but it also could mean not monitoring air or water for pollution during the pandemic.
The Dispatch asked the state for submissions from companies requesting flexibility. and for responses from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Some of the requests by companies:
Illinois-based commercial services company Huff & Huff asked to suspend its quarterly groundwater sampling for the spring, citing travel restrictions. The Ohio EPA approved the request.
Findlay-based Marathon Petroleum requested relief from groundwater sampling, gauging, analysis and reporting associated with a remediation project in Canton for the second quarter. It also sought the suspension of ongoing and planned recovery operations for light nonaqueous-phase liquids for the second quarter. (Such liquid is a groundwater contaminant that is insoluble in water. It’s often the result of the release of petroleum products.) The Ohio EPA approved the request. A Marathon spokesman later told The Dispatch that the waiver proved not to be needed “due to the lifting of some of the state-mandated social-distancing restrictions. We will complete these requirements in June, and therefore we have been, and will remain, in compliance.”
RMS, a BP-affiliated company, asked to postpone indoor air sampling and the director’s final findings and orders from 2007 for Weaver Woodlands in Summit County, which stated, “The sampling will occur in residential homes and will continue in the future.” (Petroleum product releases resulted in surrounding soil and groundwater contamination, according to the order. Benzene, toluene and xylenes, which are associated with skin and sensory irritation, were detected. That resulted in decades of testing and monitoring.) The Ohio EPA approved the request.
In fact, of the 133 requests by companies and governments for flexibility at the time of The Dispatch’s records request, none was denied. Some were still under review.
“The agency considers every response on a case-by-case basis. The requests must be COVID-19 related and still must be protective of human health and the environment,” said James Lee, a spokesman for the Ohio EPA, when asked what it would take for the agency to reject a request.
The flexibility that companies and governments have been granted has no expiration date at this time, according to the EPA website.
“I think it’s one thing when somebody needs a short extension, to file a report where the work to protect the public has been done. But when people are asking for…