Department of Environmental Quality

Visit Gov. Brown’s Oregon Coronavirus Information & Resources webpage for updates on the statewide response.

​The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality strives to be a full partner in the effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. We are taking steps to ensure the safety of our staff and the public. Here are some of the changes we are making. Please check this site regularly for updates.

The Department of Environmental Quality, which initially closed its vehicle inspection stations from March 17 through April 14, is extending those closures through April 27.

On March 20, 2020, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced that it has partnered with Oregon law enforcement agencies to exercise discretion in their enforcement of driver licenses, vehicle registrations and trip permits that expire during the COVID-19 emergency declared by Governor Brown. The Oregon State Police, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and Oregon State Sheriffs' Association have agreed to support this “grace period" for enforcing expired credentials. 

Those still wishing to get vehicles inspected have two options:
  •  Visit a participating DEQ Too™ station. DEQ Too is a test method that allows private business locations motorists already frequent, such as gas stations, car washes, oil change shops, repair service centers, etc. to complete vehicle emissions tests.
  • Purchase a test certificate. VIP customers may go to https://www.deqtoo.org/Search/Terms to purchase test certificates, with the understanding that they are required to return to get their vehicles inspected any time between the stations' re-opening and Dec. 31, 2020. This new option is available to most vehicles owners with registrations expiring between Feb. 15, 2020 and May 15, 2020.
DEQ's goal is to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers. For specific questions concerning:
DEQ must balance its vital obligation to enforce the law and protect the environment with a consideration of the dramatic disruptions to public health and the economy caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. DEQ recognizes that the outbreak may impact some regulated entities' ability to comply with DEQ requirements, including statutes, rules, and permit conditions. Some entities may experience staff shortages, service provider interruptions, or other pandemic-related disruptions. All applicable DEQ requirements remain in effect. However, DEQ will continue to exercise reasonable enforcement discretion within its authority when deciding whether to pursue potential violations caused by pandemic-related disruptions.

DEQ offers the following guidance in an effort to foster a shared understanding of priorities during this time of emergency. This guidance does not serve as authorization of any kind to violate any applicable requirement of law, including statute, rule, permit condition, or other obligation.

Documentation: DEQ requests that regulated entities document the pandemic-related disruptions to their operations. In addition, DEQ requests that regulated entities justify how disruptions to operations have caused or may cause non-compliance.

Priorities: DEQ requests that all regulated entities do everything possible to maintain the safe and environmentally protective operation of their facilities. Priorities for operation include:
  • Fully operate all installed pollution control equipment and treatment measures to reduce pollution;
  • Implement best management practices;
  • Assure proper facility operation or delivery of service;
  • Monitor, test, and report to demonstrate compliance with specific pollutant limits in your permit, license, or certification; including effluent limits, emission limits, and disposal volumes;
  • Monitor, test, and report to demonstrate compliance with all other requirements.  
If you need assistance from DEQ, please contact your permit writer, or primary DEQ contact for more information.

NOTE: Wastewater Testing Laboratories

Wastewater laboratories are not required to be certified in Oregon. However, many of the certified drinking water laboratories may also provide wastewater testing services. The Oregon Health Authority provides a searchable index of all certified drinking water laboratories within Oregon. This link is provided for informational purposes only. DEQ is not able at this time to keep an up to date list of all operational laboratories and their services. Wastewater facilities may utilize laboratories not contained on this list.

EPA Compliance Guidelines

In order to follow the Governor’s and health officials' recommendations of limiting statewide travel, the laboratory will postpone statewide non-essential sampling operations (air and water quality) until April 30, 2020.. This currently applies to overnight sampling trips for air and water quality.


The laboratory remains open. Currently, we will continue to receive samples collected locally or on day trips. We are also working with our partner collectors statewide to determine feasibility of receiving remotely collected samples. Our work is important to the state and its citizens. We will do our best to continue this work safely and protect our employees and their families.

Oregon DEQ offers in-person services by appointment only starting March 23 to mitigate spread of COVID-19

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will temporarily offer in-person public services by appointment only starting Monday, March 23, in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect employees and the public. DEQ's administrative offices and online functions remain open.

DEQ staff can be reached by email and phone during regular business hours, but those seeking to meet directly with DEQ staff need to call first and arrange for an appointment. Find staff contact info in DEQ's directory.

Note: The appointment-only policy does not apply to vehicle inspection stations, which are temporarily closed.

DEQ is committed to providing important services to Oregonians while reducing the risk of exposure for employees and the public. DEQ will provide locked drop boxes so members of the public can drop off payments, applications and other important documents. DEQ will also continue receiving mail deliveries.

Resources:

Read news release online here.



In response to the Covid-19 virus, DEQ has changed many of its day-to-day work practices to reduce risk to staff and the public while still providing vital services to stakeholders. Some of these changes include telecommuting, curtailing non-essential travel and inspections, and limiting access to DEQ offices to appointment only.  The DEQ Emergency Response Programs, which responds to oil and chemical spills, remains ready to respond to major incidents to protect Oregonians and the environment.  

Emergency Response staff ordinarily handles many spills remotely and will continue to do so, partnering with other agencies and response contractors. These spills are often 50-150 gallons of diesel on the road shoulder due to a semi-truck crash. If the capacity of the response community is hampered by sick or overwhelmed contractors, DEQ will prioritize those spills requiring immediate attention over those that can wait, based on the proximity of creeks and rivers or other sensitive environments. Oregon's spill rules require a complete cleanup of all spills and so even if a spill doesn't get immediately cleaned up, the responsible party will be required to complete the cleanup when resources become available. 

In the event of a large spill from a tanker truck or commercial vessel, DEQ will respond safely and immediately. Field practices will change to incorporate social distancing for the response contractors and agency personnel, but those changes will not interfere with protecting Oregon's citizens and environment from oil and chemical spills.

DEQ will continue to conduct inspections that are necessary to prevent immediate harm to public health or the environment, and will take all necessary precautions to protect employees and the public. DEQ may delay or suspend inspections of facilities or activities that do not present an immediate risk to public health or the environment.

The following inspections are suspended until at least April 14:
  • Hospitals
  • Wastewater treatment facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Crematoriums
  • Industrial pretreatment systems, if domestic waste is included or if in close proximity to wastewater lagoon
  • Septic systems, if inspector would be exposed to raw sewage
  • Other facilities that do not present an immediate risk to public health or the environment.
As of April 3, 2020, DEQ, along with its partners Oregon Department of Forestry, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Oregon Department of Agriculture  and Oregon Health Authority, is asking people to refrain from all outdoor burning activities until further notice.    

Fire is a necessary tool used by industrial forest landowners, farmers, small woodland owners, rural residents and others to manage lands. However, there are several ways smoke from fires during the COVID-19 pandemic may negatively affect the public and first responders:
    1. While some people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, most patients recover at home, where smoke from a nearby outdoor burn could worsen their condition.
    2. Exposure to smoke can increase the risk of contracting infectious respiratory disease, such as COVID-19, increase the severity of existing respiratory infections and worsen underlying chronic respiratory conditions.
    3. Smoke may cause symptoms in some people that may cause them to seek medical care at a time when health resources are already stretched thin.
    4. There is a severe shortage of personal protective equipment used to reduce smoke exposure at this time.
    5. Outdoor burning can escape at a time when emergency services are operating at a reduced capacity and have limited resources to respond to out-of-control burns
State agencies are asking people to weigh the possible negative effects on the wider community before choosing to burn.

This is a voluntary action. Many local jurisdictions have outdoor burn regulations in place. It is best to first check with the local fire agency to see if outdoor burning is currently allowed in your area. For more information, please view the press release.   

For information on other options, go to Alternatives to Outdoor Burning.

Governor Brown has issued an executive order requiring residents to stay home except for essential needs. DEQ will work to set up web or telephone meetings as needed during this time.