In late March, in the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowed facilities to suspend water quality monitoring during the health emergency if virus restrictions impeded the work.
One of the facilities that halted its water monitoring work is Technical Area 54 (TA-54), a contaminated site at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico. The site shut down its regularly required water monitoring for almost three months due to the EPA’s Covid-19 policy, according to a Forbes report published today.
The temporary policy, which relaxes environmental enforcement obligations, expires August 31.
One obligation at TA-54 that stopped during this time was the treatment of groundwater for chromium, a toxic heavy metal. Once treated, the clean water is pumped back into the ground. This process began again at TA-54 in July, more than three months after it stopped. Other routine groundwater monitoring started again June 8.
Just over 350 facilities across the nation did not submit water monitoring reports during the EPA’s temporary Covid-19 measures, according to The Hill. Among others, these facilities included fossil fuel companies, water treatment plants, coal mines, and recycling centers.