CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The bill that would create regulations for above ground storage tanks will likely make it out of the state Senate this week.
It was written to address sites similar to the tank that leaked along the Elk River on Jan. 9 and sent crude MCHM and PPH into the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians.
“Everyone I talk to is outraged about what happened in Charleston and really outraged that there was no sufficient regulation in place to try to minimize the risk of something like this happening,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha, 17).
Palumbo said the bill that’s been moving through the Senate is designed to address the lack of regulations for such above ground storage facilities by requiring tank owners to register the sites and have company engineers inspect them each year.
For storage tanks that sit within 25 miles of a water intake or other areas deemed “critical zones,” the Senate bill tasks officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection with handling the annual inspections.
“I was never comfortable with all tanks in the state falling under the same kind of protocol for the regulations when we have many tanks, like the one at Freedom Industries, which are much more likely to cause harm to our water supply,” said Palumbo.
The bill also requires public water systems to have emergency plans in place for possible future water contamination. The Senate Judiciary Committee pushed back the deadline for compliance for some smaller systems to July 2015.
“There’s nothing we can do to totally eliminate the possibility of this (kind of water emergency), but I think this bill will, certainly, significantly minimize the chance of something like this happening in the future,” said Palumbo.
SB 373 was scheduled to be taken up on second reading, meaning possible amendments, on the Senate floor on Monday. It could get final approval from the Senate on either Monday or Tuesday.