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COVID-19 Impacts on Environmental Issues in Kansas – KDHE Bureau of Environmental Remediation Issues Guidance

Consistent with Governor Kelly’s March 17, 2020, directive, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) offices are closed for the two weeks between March 23 and April 3, 2020, as part of the state’s response to COVID-19.  KDHE continues its essential functions and the Bureau of Environmental Remediation (BER) has provided several updates for the regulated community.  The agency has indicated it is uncertain that mail will be logged in daily and parties should expect some delay in communications. Electronic communications are preferred where possible.

The Bureau of Environmental Remediation will not have personnel available to review and issue Certificates of Environmental Liability Relief (CELR) during this time.  CELR applications may continue to be submitted via KEIMS during the closure, but no CELRs will be issued during the closure.  KDHE has indicated that, at this time, it anticipates still being able to meet the 15-day statutory requirement for CELR issuance, for any application received between March 23 and April 3, once staff returns on April 6, 2020.

In addition, BER’s Storage Tank Section has issued guidance for operators and consultants.  The Tank Section recognizes that restrictions and changes associated with the COVID-19 response may prevent Class A/B Operators from completing required training or re-training.  KDHE has announced that Operators may request an extension of up to six months past their initial due date, certificate expiration date or re-training date.  The application is available here.

The Storage Tank Section has also issued a letter to storage tank consultants.  While the Section encourages parties to meet deadlines where possible, penalties are suspended for missed deadlines “due to the ramifications of COVID-19.”  The Section has advised consultants that there may be a delay in responding to correspondence, and parties are encouraged to send electronic reports directly to the appropriate KDHE Project Manager by e-mail.  KDHE’s letter is available here.

This post was drafted by Andrew Brought, Jessica Merrigan, and Jim Price, attorneys in the Kansas City, MO office of Spencer Fane LLP. For more information, visit spencerfane.com.