Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the designation of critical infrastructure services during the COVID-19 outbreak, identifying the 16 critical sectors considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on the country’s public health and safety. These 16 vital sectors include Veolia North America’s key business units, recognizing them as essential services. As an infrastructure stakeholder with deep experience and expertise in decontamination and water and wastewater services, we are highly cognizant of the responsibility we have to manage and operate these critical services at a time of national need.
Veolia facilities across the U.S. manage household and hazardous waste recycling, clean industrial water and provide safe drinking water and wastewater treatment services. Critically, we also provide sustainable energy for hospitals, government buildings, and vital infrastructure. More than that, Veolia operations provide stable, high-tech jobs for those that keep our communities running in times of crisis, from devastating hurricanes to global pandemics. In today's world, many types of specialized employees are required to sustain day-to-day services that keep our economy running and preserve our way of life.
Along with providing recycling services that turn waste streams into energy and other sustainable uses, we also offer solutions for waste that cannot be recycled or reused as a resource. As we face COVID-19 together, waste needs to be treated more carefully than ever.
For instance, a majority of medical and pharmaceutical waste needs to be managed in a way that ensures a site’s safety as well as regulatory compliance. The disposal of radioactive waste can be costly and time-consuming - not to mention hazardous - if not managed properly. While some examples may be obvious, such as contaminated rags and gloves, a full audit needs to be performed to verify all streams and account for safety precautions.
Lab and equipment decontamination is another important consideration in keeping facilities safe, whether it's decontaminating a real estate parcel or the mandated decontamination through a RCRA closure of a hazardous waste storage area. Taking a contaminated site and restoring it to a useful condition is a formidable task that must meet the high standards set by federal, state and local regulations.
It's for this reason that the safety and well-being of our employees, customers and the communities we serve remains our top priority. As the impacts of COVID-19 unfold across our service areas, we are taking proactive actions in line with federal, state and local health organizations, ensuring our operations run without disruption as we respond to this pandemic. If you are one of the millions of people self-quarantined in your home or a dedicated healthcare worker performing vital medical testing, interruptions in running water or electricity can be calamitous. As we all continue to feel the effects of this outbreak, our sites will remain open, and we will work tirelessly to ensure no disruption in supply or service.
For more on Veolia's "essential critical" designation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, please visit their website or refer to the infographic below.