Senators introduce bill to regulate above-ground storage tanks - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Senators introduce bill to regulate above-ground storage tanks

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West Virginia's two U.S. senators will co-sponsor a bill requiring states to inspect above-ground storage facilities such as the one that leaked and contaminated drinking water in the Charleston area.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said Jan. 17 they had reached an agreement on legislative language on the bill.

The legislation includes common sense measures designed to ensure industrial facilities are properly inspected by state officials and both the chemical industry and emergency response agencies are prepared for future chemical incidents or emergencies.

Key principles in the proposed Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act include:

  • Requiring regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities
  • Requiring industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans that meet at least minimum guidelines established in this bill
  • Allowing states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies
  • Ensuring drinking water systems have the tools and information to respond to emergencies.

On Jan. 9, a chemical leak at an above-ground storage tank into the Elk River at Charleston contaminated the drinking water of about 300,000 people.

"No West Virginian or American should have to go through something like this again, and that is why I plan to introduce common sense legislation to make sure all chemicals are appropriately monitored," Manchin said in a news release. "We can work to improve the safety of Americans by ensuring that chemicals are properly managed, while also balancing the positive impact the chemical industry has made to our country."

Rockefeller said, "The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd. I'm encouraged we are taking these steps to bring some accountability to industry that will help protect West Virginia families and our state's economy."