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Alert Details

Coronavirus Information

Learn more about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and connect with resources for Pennsylvanians.

COVID-19: DEP offices closed, click here for details

In order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, all DEP offices are closed. To report environmental emergencies, please call 1-800-541-2050.

DEP staff that are able are teleworking, and still fulfilling the mission of the department. This includes reviewing permits, responding to complaints and environmental emergencies, and other work. For general inquiries, please continue to contact DEP.

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DEP COVID-19 Update

DEP is committed to its mission of protecting public health and the environment and will continue to monitor permitted facilities that are still in operation and those that have temporarily ceased operations. All environmental laws and regulations will continue to be enforced for the duration of the disaster declaration. 

Many industries in Pennsylvania have been ordered to suspend operations for the duration of the emergency declaration. For industries that can remain in operation the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania encourages operators of essential industries to employ social distancing practices and limiting activities as possible. All permittees and operators are expected to meet all terms and conditions of their environmental permits, including conditions applicable to cessation of operations.  Companies that would like to request suspension of regulations or permit conditions please see below. 

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DEP Work During State Office Closures

Since the March 16, 2020 order from Governor Tom Wolf to close all Commonwealth offices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, DEP staff have been utilizing teleworking methods and social distancing practices to continue to fulfill our mission. In that time, DEP staff have:

  • Conducted 12,000 inspections 
  • Processed 5,267 permit applications and authorizations
  • Processed 95% of Permit Decision Guarantee (PDG) applications and authorizations, despite PDG being suspended for the duration of the disaster declaration
  • Responded to 54 environmental emergencies

DEP has also developed a process for companies to request suspension of regulatory or permit condition requirements to provide life-sustaining activities. To date, DEP has granted requests to 32 entities so that they may continue operating. 

Virtual Public Hearings

​During the COVID-19 pandemic DEP will be suspending in-person public hearings in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health of DEP staff and Pennsylvania residents. DEP will be conducting virtual public hearings for those hearings that required by statute. These hearings will use an online platform like WebEx, and instructions for participation will be published in the PA Bulletin along with the information on the subject of the hearing. Written comments are encouraged for all comment periods; written comments are treated equally as comments presented at public hearings.  

Inspections

​To limit exposure to and spread of the virus, DEP is currently prioritizing field inspections that are critical to public health and safety. DEP staff are working remotely, and responding to complaints related to issues critical to public health and safety. DEP will continue to respond in the field to environmental emergencies that present an immediate threat to public health and safety. Conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly evolving. DEP is closely monitoring the situation and working to make the best decisions to protect public health and safety and the environment. As conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic evolve, it may become necessary for DEP to make operational changes to compensate.

Requesting Suspension of Regulation or Permit Condition

In accordance with Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency of March 6, 2020 and the Governor’s powers pursuant to the Emergency Management Code, 35 Pa.C.S. §7301, the Governor has authority to suspend regulatory obligations and other legal obligations within his jurisdiction where strict compliance will prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the COVID-19 emergency.  

To request a temporary suspension of regulatory requirements and/or permit conditions, fill out this form and submit to RA-EPCOVID19SuspReq@pa.gov.

*If you are requesting suspension of a Federal requirement, under only Federal authority, please contact US EPA Region III and refer to the US EPA March 26, 2020 Memorandum (COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program). To the extent the request relates to a federal program delegated to Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania will review requests submitted in this format. 

Reporting requirements in the NPDES program

On March 31, 2020, US EPA advised Pennsylvania, an authorized NPDES Program, that it had created a new No Data Indicator (NODI) code, NODI code “Z,” COVID-19, that permittees and authorized NPDES Programs could use in connection with NPDES reporting requirements that are tracked in EPA’s Integrated Compliance Information System for the NPDES program (ICIS-NPDES) if data is missing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to avoid the automatic generation of DMR non-receipt violations. 

In response to this announcement, DEP will be adding NODI code “Z” to its Electronic Discharge Monitoring Report (eDMR) System.  

Pennsylvania NPDES permittees may only use NODI code “Z” if and when they receive approval of their request to temporarily suspend regulatory requirements and/or permit conditions. Pennsylvania permittees may not use NODI code “Z” in the absence of this approval. Application for temporary suspension can be made by filling out the form referenced above and submitting it to RA-EPCOVID19SuspReq@pa.gov.  

Additional Information

Approved Requests

Emergency Land Application of Milk

​Please see the following guidelines for emergency land application of milk during the COVID disaster declaration:

For Permit Holders

Entities operating under a DEP permit that have ceased or suspended operations or construction, please refer to your permit terms and conditions, as they contain regulatory obligations and details regarding cessation or temporary stoppage of work. This includes, but is not limited to, Chapter 102 earth disturbance permits and Chapter 105 encroachment permits. Permittees or operators with questions about specific permit or operating conditions should contact the entities identified on their permit or cover letter. If a point of contact is not provided in the permit or cover letter, a current DEP directory can be found here.
 
In addition, DEP is suspending the timeframes for providing permit decisions established in the Policy for Implementing the Department of Environmental Protection Permit Review Process and Permit Decision Guarantee due to the office closures related to COVID-19. Please note that DEP staff will continue to process received permit applications. However; due to operational conditions, applicants may experience delays receiving decisions. Applicants may also experience delays in receiving permit decisions where the applications are processed by County Conservation Districts. DEP will provide emergency authorizations for projects that are critical to public health and safety.

NPDES and WQM Permit Compliance During COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Declaration - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)- DEP has received numerous questions from persons with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and Water Quality Management (WQM) permits concerning DEP’s expectations for permit compliance during this time. This FAQ document addresses the key questions that have been asked and will be updated as additional decisions are made and as circumstances change.

Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 Permit Guidance

On April 23, 2020, Governor Wolf announced the availability of Guidance for Business in the Construction Industry Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency (the “Construction Guidance”). A copy of the Construction Guidance may be found here.

In accordance with the Construction Guidance, many construction sites are once again becoming active. For those sites that have been shut down and now are starting up, where activities regulated under 25 Pa. Code Chapters 102 and 105 will be occurring, the permittee should contact the DEP regional office or the county conservation district (“CCD”) that approved permit coverage and that provides oversight of those programs to make them aware that activities will be resuming. In the event the CCD that normally provides oversight of those programs is not operating due to COVID-19, the DEP Regional Waterways and Wetlands Program that covers the geographic area where the site exists should be contacted. For any site that has resumed operations, DEP expects compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, and all permit conditions, unless specifically suspended through the temporary suspension of regulation or permit condition process.

Safe Drinking Water COVID-19 Information

​Public water system personnel are strongly encouraged to review the COVID-19 preparation and response webpage.

Water and Wastewater Operator Examination Providers

​The following provides a summary of the current guidance from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP or Department) and the Operator Certification Board regarding upcoming water and wastewater operator certification exams during the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Please note that this is subject to change as the situation evolves.

County Conservation Districts
The following provides a summary of the current guidance from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP or Department) regarding site inspections by County Conservation Districts who have delegated authority during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Please note that this is subject to change as the situation evolves.
Storage Tank Guidance

​Please see the following guidance for underground storage tanks inspections and installation during the COVID response:

Information on Remote Notarization

​On April 20, 2020, SB 841 was signed by Governor Wolf. The bill became effective on that date and temporarily modifies the rules that apply to Public Notaries. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires notarized documents in nearly all of its programs. The link below is a summary of the legislation and how it will affect DEP applications and forms that require notarization through the duration of the current COVID-19 Disaster Emergency.

Right to Know Law

​As of March 16, 2020, the Rachel Carson State Office Building was closed in accordance with Governor Tom Wolf’s guidance on COVID-19 mitigation.  Any requests for public records submitted to DEP on or after March 16, 2020 will be deemed to have been received by the DEP’s open-records officer on the first day of the reopening of the Rachel Carson State Office Building.  Please note that the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records issued a statement indicating that “if an agency is closed on a given day, that day does not count toward the five business days referenced in Section 901 of the Right-to-Know Law, which governs the time period under which an agency must respond to a request.”

Service of Process

​For questions about service of process, please contact Joseph Iole at RA-EPOCC@pa.gov or call 814-450-3620.  

Requesting a Business Waiver

The period to apply for a business waiver has closed.

For companies affected by the March 19 order to close all non-essential businesses, please use the following email address:

• For questions about what is affected, please contact ra-dcedcs@pa.gov