On March 2, 2020 in the Federal Register, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule regulating its procedures for on-site civil inspections. This rule became effective immediately upon publication. The rule codifies procedures for its inspectors and informs the regulated community on how an inspection is to be performed.
The rule and its procedures:
- Apply to EPA’s civil inspectors, federal contractors, and Senior Environmental Employment employees conducting inspections for the EPA.
- Do not apply to federally credentialed state and tribal inspectors conducting inspections on the EPA’s behalf.
- Apply to civil inspections and do not apply to criminal investigations.
New Inspection Procedures
Under the procedures, EPA inspectors may interview facility personnel including environmental contacts, process operators, contractors, maintenance personnel, process engineers, control room operators, and other employees working in the areas of interest. Inspectors should document the names and titles of all interviewees and the dates and locations of the interview.
When appropriate, EPA may request copies of different records before, during, or after an inspection. EPA may also record copies of records taken from the facility.
Inspectors may take appropriate samples, as needed. If applicable and practicable during the opening conference, the inspector must offer the facility the opportunity to obtain split samples or to collect duplicate samples.
When feasible, inspectors must offer a closing conference with available facility personnel. During a closing conference, EPA will discuss any outstanding questions or missing documents and the process for follow up. Inspectors may discuss next steps and how the facility will be contacted for the inspection results and identify the point of contact for further communication. EPA may also summarize any potential “areas of concern.”
After the inspection, EPA will share an inspection report with the facility. The report may be in the form of a narrative, checklist, letter, email, or other document type. It may also vary depending on the facility, type of inspection, and the statutory authority.
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