UPDATE Friday 10:30 a.m. Senate passed the bill through first reading. It will be on second reading Monday afternoon.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would regulate above ground storage facilities in West Virginia will next be taken up by the full Senate following passage Thursday evening by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The measure, introduced following the Jan. 9 chemical leak that resulted in a water emergency for nine counties, requires an annual inspection and certification by the state Department of Environmental Protection at each storage site.
“That piece alone, which is authority I don’t have today, is authority that, if had it, would have probably eliminated the risk of this happening up there,” Huffman said referring to the Freedom Industries site in Charleston where the leak of chemicals Crude MCHM and PPL took place.
The bill also includes a requirement that public water systems have emergency plans on file. The committee pushed back the requirement for some smaller systems until July 2015. Mercer County Sen. Bill Cole expressed concern the initial requirement may hurt smaller public service districts.
DEP Secretary Huffman told the committee annual inspections of tanks would be significant.
“To look at the structural integrity of the tank, supply lines, secondary containment. There are actually protocols and tests to do to ensure we are not going to have a leak,” Huffman said.
The bill being considered is not Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s bill that was introduced this week but the governor supports it. His deputy chief of staff Jason Pizatella said the bill was a joint effort.
“Everybody in this room probably knows Earl Ray Tomblin better than I do and he’s never been someone that’s had a pride of authorship,” Pizatella said. “He wants to make sure we get this right.”
The bill will now be taken up on the Senate floor.