CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov, Earl Ray Tomblin called his West Virginia Source Water Protection Act a work in progress Tuesday.
The governor proposed the bill Monday, a week and a half after up to 7,500 gallons of MCHM leaked from an above ground tank at Freedom Industries and into the Elk River eventually reaching West Virginia American Water Company’s Kanawha Water Treatment Plant which serves 100,000 customers in nine counties.
The Tomblin bill would create an above ground storage tank regulatory program to ensure facilities located in “critical zones” are built and maintained under consistent safety standards. That means above ground tanks near water sources, populated areas or other locations where large amounts of people could be impacted.
“We want to make sure [tanks] are inspected on a regular basis by a certified engineer to give people more confidence,” said Tomblin during an interview with MetroNews on Tuesday.
The governor admits it is a “narrow” bill.
“We don’t want to overreach, but at the same time we don’t want to duplicate what another agency or law is already doing,” according to Tomblin.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader John Unger said on MetroNews Talkline Tuesday the governor’s bill doesn’t go far enough. Legislation introduced last week in the Senate called for all above ground storage tanks to fall into regulation standards no matter where they’re located.
Tomblin said his bill is not the final word on chemical safety and if there are changes that need to be made he is willing to consider those.
“This bill is one we had to put together fairly quickly,” explained Tomblin. “I’m willing to work with legislative leaders to make sure the job is done to make sure the people’s health and safety of this state are looked after.”
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman backed the governor’s bill saying the Senate version is too broad.