On January 8, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed to amend the short-form warning regulations under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. In August 2018, new Proposition 65 warning regulations became effective that significantly changed the required language and manner in which Proposition 65 warnings should be provided. Most significant was the new requirement to specifically list at least one chemical that a consumer could be exposed to in the warning. These regulations, however, provided an alternative warning option — dubbed the “short-form” warning — which does not require the identification of any chemicals in the warning. While OEHHA originally may have intended the use of the short-form warning only on products where space was limited, the actual terms of the regulation do not prohibit the use on products where space is not an issue.

Continue Reading California Proposes to Significantly Limit the Use of Proposition 65 Short-Form Warning

In light of the potential for distribution of the vaccine, employers are revisiting their plans for return to work and the many challenges that office re-openings might bring, including the requirement that employees wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves, and the disposal of such equipment. Most companies (non-health care or COVID-19 treatment facilities) generally assume that masks and gloves are simply solid waste and can go in dumpsters per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. While this designation may be appropriate (based on the state and local requirements), however, it is prudent for even non-health-care-related employers to have a plan in place to maintain a clean workplace and manage PPE disposal procedures if an employee exhibits COVID-19 symptoms. Moreover, many workplaces are contemplating the potential of offering COVID-19 testing and vaccination on-site, and employers interested in offering such services should be mindful of the potential for more stringent waste disposal requirements for used PPE. As you might expect, there are no straight-forward answers with the new phenomenon of PPE and COVID-19 as the federal Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 expired in 1991. Whether PPE is a medical waste will generally depend on a state’s rules and may depend on an employer’s knowledge about the potential for COVID-19 exposure.

Continue Reading Personal Protective Equipment Disposal Management in the Workplace

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently finalized long-awaited revisions to its hazardous waste regulations that will allow PV solar panels to be managed as “universal waste” beginning on January 1, 2021. This reclassification will have significant implications on how spent PV solar panels are managed in the state.

Continue Reading California Classifies Solar Panels as Universal Waste

Environmental justice has received greater attention in 2020, both because it is an election year, but also because of the increased focus on racial inequality since the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Many states are considering legislation on this topic, but on August 27, 2020, New Jersey passed a significant environmental justice bill, the first to require denial of a permit on environmental justice ground.
Continue Reading New Jersey Passes Significant Environmental Justice Legislation

The California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) has issued Order WQ 2020-0015-DWQ, requiring Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) with dry weather design flows greater than 1 million gallons per day to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in influent, effluent, biosolids, and, in some cases, groundwater. POTWs with existing groundwater monitoring

As businesses across the country begin to re-open, many will be hypervigilant about the safety of indoor spaces. While stay-at-home orders may be lifting, business owners and their employees may have significant trepidation about the risks of returning to their workspaces and public venues. Building owners and property management companies will be called upon to address concerns about the safety of their tenant spaces and public areas, and the adequacy of measures taken to ensure the protection of building occupants. However, while building owners and property managers must necessarily focus on addressing the concerns arising directly from potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, they should not ignore other potentially significant concerns associated with reopening their properties. One such concern is the stagnant conditions that may develop in a building’s water system during periods of extended disuse, which can lead to an enhanced risk for the spread of the Legionella bacteria that can cause Legionnaire’s disease, creating potential health risks for tenant, worker, and other user populations.
Continue Reading After the Stay-At-Home Order: Water Management Best Practices for Re-Opening Buildings

The new hazardous waste pharmaceutical management standards established by EPA’s Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine (“Rule”) are already effective in some states. Other states must adopt the rule by July 1, 2021 or, if a statutory amendment is required prior to the state’s adoption, by July 1, 2022. Based on this, all “healthcare facilities”[1] and “reverse distributors,”[2] as defined by the Rule, will ultimately be required to comply with the Rule (as adopted in each state).
Continue Reading “Unauthorized Waste” Reporting Under EPA’s Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste Rule

California regulators have announced that the comment period for a recent proposal, Supplemental Guidance: Screening and Evaluating Vapor Intrusion, has been extended to June 1, 2020, and public workshops and webinars originally scheduled for April have been postponed until further notice.

Vapor intrusion occurs when contamination moves from groundwater and soil beneath a structure into the air, accumulating in occupied areas where they can result in safety hazards or health effects. Common vapor-forming chemicals include volatile organic compounds including trichloroethylene (TCE), mercury, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), and certain pesticides. Testing for vapor intrusion is an important step in investigating a potential development site, and in ensuring the health and safety of existing residential and commercial buildings.


Continue Reading Update – New California Supplemental Vapor Intrusion Guidance Comment Period Extended, Trainings Postponed

As reported previously, California agencies are providing clarification and directives to guide regulatory compliance following Governor Gavin Newsom’s state-wide “stay at home” order issued on March 19, 2020. More specific guidance has now been issued by the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) for Public Water Systems, and by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for all regulated entities.

Notably, although EPA has announced that enforcement discretion will be exercised in cases where routine compliance is not reasonably practicable, the Agency recognizes the authority of states and tribes to determine their own enforcement policies. Thus, California-regulated companies also must track how California agencies are approaching compliance during COVID-19 to ensure ongoing compliance.


Continue Reading Update – California Agencies Issue Additional Guidance on Environmental Compliance During COVID-19 Emergency

California agencies are beginning to provide clarification and directives to guide regulatory compliance following local “shelter in place” orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Governor Gavin Newsom’s state-wide “stay at home” order issued on March 19, 2020. While the State Department of Public Health is taking the lead in coordinating the state-level response, other regulatory agencies responsible for essential services and facilities have begun to issue their first formal directives related to environmental compliance and safety.

The emphasis of regulatory directives thus far are clear: all requirements related to critical infrastructure remain in effect, with special provisions for immediate notification if there are circumstances or current government directives that could impede timely compliance.


Continue Reading Update – California Agencies Issue Guidance for Regulatory Compliance As COVID-19 Containment Orders Go Into Effect