Earlier this week, Governor Laura Kelly recommended Kansas stay in Phase 3 of the "Ad Astra" plan for at least two more weeks. Trinity contacted Gyanendra Prasai (Air Permitting Chief) and Connie Ellis (Air Compliance, Enforcement, Asbestos, and KS Residential Lead Hazard Program Chief) of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) on their reopening plans and updates of their teams.
Currently, most of the Bureau of Air (BOA) staff work from home. Given the limited office space in the Charles Curtis State Office building, it is likely that staff will continue the current arrangement through the end of July. BOA staff are working at full capacity reviewing applications and providing compliance support. The limitation to working remotely is the lack of phone access since only Section Chiefs have work cellphones. Although staff cannot answer their office phones, they have access to the voicemail system and are encouraged to check their voicemails regularly. Staff will then contact the facilities via email or their personal cellphones should they choose. To expand phone access, the Air Permitting Section is looking into providing work cellphones to Unit Supervisors in the new fiscal year starting in July. The best way to contact KDHE is via email, and BOA staff has been responsive to email requests based on Trinity's experience. However, if you have an urgent request, you can still call Gyanendra Prasai at 785.296.6427 or Connie Ellis at 785.296.1556. Additional updates are summarized below.
BOA Permitting and Compliance sections are not expecting to host in-person meetings anytime soon. Instead, the BOA encourages facilities to utilize video conference calls, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, to schedule meetings with KDHE staff.
Kansas Environmental Information Management System (KEIMS)
Since January 1, 2020, the BOA no longer accepts paper forms and requests facilities utilize KEIMS for all submissions. The BOA will contact facilities via email should there be any questions regarding the submittals. For compliance reports, facilities will receive an email notification from the KEIMS system once the report is approved by BOA, typically a few days following the submittal. With staff working from home, the BOA encourages facilities to continue using KEIMS and avoid submitting duplicate paper copies.
Due to facilities shutting down related to COVID-19 restrictions, KDHE and EPA have granted extensions to stack testing requirements. BOA Compliance staff may observe performance testing while following social distancing requirements.
The BOA allows inspectors to use their discretion when conducting inspections. The format of inspections may vary and can include the following:
- Onsite inspections while maintaining safe distance and complying with facilities' policies.
- Drive-by inspections if installations are located outdoors and visible from the street
- Paperwork inspections
There is no change to the air permitting process. Permit writers continue reviewing applications and issuing construction permits. For applications requiring air dispersion modeling, BOA staff will provide meteorological data upon request, and BOA staff will work from the office for model runs.