CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates has the bill directly connected to the Jan. 9 chemical leak and resulting water emergency before it for final passage Wednesday.
The storage tank/water protection bill will be on third and final reading during the House floor session but delegates will have a chance to amend the bill before the final vote.
The legislation, which passed the Senate earlier this session, has been changed significantly by three House committees. The House Finance Committee took two key items out of the bill Monday that were added by the House Judiciary Committee. There will likely be an attempt to put the medical monitoring and chemical spill sensors provisions back in the bill by proposed amendments.
The current version of the bill sets up a pathway for the adoption and implementation of source water protection plans; requires annual inspections of above ground storage tanks; lifts many of the exemptions allowed for those tanks; directs the state Department of Environmental Protection secretary to develop regulations for the tanks and adds requirements to emergency preparedness steps.
Once the plan is approved it will head back to the Senate. If that body doesn’t agree with the changes, the bill could go to a conference committee in the final days of the session, which ends Saturday night at midnight.
Water protection and chemical storage weren’t on the minds of many lawmakers when the session began Jan. 8 but the very next day thousands of gallons of the chemical MCHM spilled from the Freedom Industries storage facility on the Elk River less than two miles from West Virginia American Water Company’s Kanawha Valley Plant. The leak forced a Do Not Use water order for residents in parts of nine counties.