CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House Judiciary Committee will be the first stop in the state House of Delegates for the bill that would create regulations, including a requirement for annual inspections, for above ground storage tanks in West Virginia.
The proposal was introduced in the state Senate in the days after the Jan. 9 chemical leak along the Elk River in Kanawha County that made tap water unusable for days in parts of nine counties.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Tim Manchin (D-Manchin, 50) said he sees the Senate bill as a good starting point. “For the most part, I think it addresses concerns that need to be looked at. There are some concerns that I still have,” he said on Wednesday.
The proposal would require all above ground storage tanks to be registered, meet certain standards for safety and undergo annual inspections.
Company-hired engineers would conduct the yearly inspections. However, at sites sitting less than 25 miles upstream from a treatment facility’s water intake, officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection would conduct a separate inspection each year.
Manchin said he wonders about other potential threats to public water sources, beyond what’s in above ground tanks, including possible dangers from underground tanks, pipelines or other facilities located near water intakes, like the intake for West Virginia American Company’s Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant.
“The public, I think, has lost confidence in our ability or past ability to guarantee them a safe water supply. The bill addresses itself, primarily, to above ground storage tanks,” he said. “It doesn’t adequately address or look at those other potential risks.”
The full Senate unanimously approved the above ground storage tank regulatory bill, SB 373, which includes a mandate that public water systems develop emergency plans, on Tuesday.
Manchin was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” It originated from the State Capitol as the 2014 Regular Legislative Session continues.