Important update from EPA CEO regarding EPA and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
What we are doing
In light of the current global situation with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), I wanted to share with you EPA’s plans to ensure business continuity and the safety of our employees and communities. Our top priorities continue to be the health and wellbeing of our employees, as well as the mitigation of disruptions to the delivery of our regulatory activities.
EPA has had a business continuity plan in place for some time which is regularly reviewed and updated. Recognising the criticality of our function to the Victorian community we have now commenced implementing a specific pandemic plan. We have processes in place to continue to deliver our regulatory functions — including strong capability of our staff to work remotely. We will continue to prioritise delivery of our compliance and enforcement and pollution response activities to prevent harm from pollution and waste.
We are in constant communication with our staff, regulatory partners and government whilst closely monitoring the situation, evaluating our policies as the situation evolves and focusing our effort where it is needed most.
What we expect from duty holders
EPA recognises that this is an unprecedented challenge and the critical recommendation for all duty-holders is to create and adopt a business continuity plan. It’s essential to decide what should happen in the short to medium term, and consider the longer-term impact, always following the advice of state and federal governments and any specific health advice for your sector.
EPA advises that duty holders remain responsible for environmental impacts from their activities and should plan business continuity with that in mind.
In particular, duty holders should ensure that they are able to maintain and operate pollution control equipment. Solid and liquid waste must continue to be consigned and disposed of appropriately, and to appropriately approved facilities. Duty holders in the waste industry should maintain good communications with clients and EPA, particularly around any predicted service disruptions.
If your activities are conducted under an EPA licence or other approval, all conditions remain in force and must be complied with.
Section 30A of the Environment Protection Act enables EPA to grant emergency approvals for discharge or storage of waste in certain circumstances. If you believe this will be required for your business, contact EPA as early as possible. Granting of such an approval will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
How to stay updated
It is important to follow DHHS advice at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au and Worksafe advice at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au
Updates on EPA status can be found at www.epa.vic.gov.au
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
And follow the coronavirus updates at www.emergency.vic.gov.au
Thank you for your cooperation during these challenging times.
Dr Cathy Wilkinson
Reviewed 16 March 2020