|West Virginia’s House of Delegates recently held public hearings to seek input from citizens on a proposed bill that would make amendments to the Aboveground Storage Tank Act.
On March 6, many of the same people who had advocated for last year’s Aboveground Storage Tank Act to be passed returned to the podium in the House of Delegates Chamber in Charleston to argue against the new amendment, which seeks to loosen many of the law’s regulations, according to the West Virginia Metro News.
Throughout every state, aboveground storage tanks are subject to regulations at a federal, state and local level. West Virginia legislators hastily drafted and passed the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, or Senate Bill 373, in the months following Freedom Industries’ leak of MCHM into the Elk River in January 2014. The chemical spill resulted in a tap water ban for thousands of people that lasted several days.
The proposed amendment, Senate Bill 423, would roll back the law’s reach to focus primarily on 10,000-gallon aboveground storage tanks located in close proximity to a water supply, the West Virginia State Journal reports. The bill also outlines provisions for secondary spill containment, prevention and response plans.
The bill’s supporters say it allows for a more efficient, focused scope by only monitoring the most at-risk aboveground storage tanks. However, its critics note that loosening the original law’s terms would make it easier for tank spills and leaks to take place.
Speaker Sherry Tulk, in particular, raised criticisms over the math used to draw up the bill’s zones of critical concern.
“(The amendment would work) if you know for a fact it’s going to be stringent enough to ensure that contamination could not happen,” said Tulk. “I would add that if it is, how is it Freedom Industry tanks that contaminated the water a year ago are not included in those areas of concern?”
West Virginia’s House Judiciary Committee intends to vote on the bill soon; the 2015 legislative session ends March 14.