After a long, frustrating and complicated stakeholder process — a process that led to confusion among our friends in the legislature about how environmental and citizen groups felt about the bill that resulted — the WV State Senate voted overwhelmingly to amend the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Act. Because of the public outcry over the extreme nature of the roll-backs proposed in SB 423, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump (R-Morgan) brought DEP officials, several industry lobbyists and citizen activists to the table, and directed his staff to make changes to the bill bases on concerns raised by the various interest groups. The re-written bill is better than the original version, but still exempts tens of thousands of tanks and weakens inspection requirements for those tanks that would remain covered under the Act. (Read more here.)
Tell your delegate(s) not to rollback the water protections in the Aboveground Storage Tank Act.
Tomorrow, Friday, March 6, 8:30am, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing in the House Chamber at the State Capitol for legislators to hear citizens’ concerns about SB 423 and rolling back water protections put in place in response to the chemical leak that contaminated the drinking water of more than 300,000 people in Charleston and surrounding areas last year.
Tell your delegates to amend SB 423 to restore strong water protections.
We realize that the short notice and bad weather will likely keep many folks from attending the hearing. However, you can still email and call House Judiciary Committee members and your delegate(s) with your message. You can find contact information for House Judiciary Committee members here and contact information for your delegate(s) here.
Here’s what we need from our Delegates:
Incorporate DEP’s risk-based rule into SB423. SB 423 does not incorporate DEP’s rule and would cause another year will go by without Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) regulations in place. DEP’s Proposed AST Rule was developed with extensive public input from industry and citizens to implement the Act. The rule divides tanks into three levels and requires more stringent protections for tanks that present the highest risks.
Include tanks that pose a risk to water supplies. SB 423 exempts approximately 36,000 tanks from regulation under the Act. Roughly one-third of the deregulated tanks are located within 1,000 feet of a river or stream. These tanks should continue to be regulated under the Act as they are most likely to contaminate water if they should fail. SB 423 also leaves out thousands of tanks that could affect groundwater and the many landowners who rely on private water wells for drinking and other uses. A positive, if “unintended consequence” of the bill passed last year was that the bill would impose more stringent inspection, maintenance and other requirements on ASTs owned and operated by the oil and gas industry.
Require stringent and explicit standards and accountability for tank and secondary containment integrity. The Freedom Industries disaster could have been avoided by regular tank inspections and mitigated by a well-maintained secondary containment system. It must be remembered that when there is a tank failure, the secondary containment system becomes the primary system: redundancy is the point!
Make information available for source water protection planning. SB 423 limits access to and imposes new restrictions on disclosure of information that could prevent water utilities from being aware of threats to the water system. Information about the location and contents of tanks, including data on stored chemicals, must be shared with water utilities.
For those who can attend the hearing, here are some tips:
- Get to the House Chamber 10-15 min. early and sign up to speak
- Prepare to only have about 1-2 minutes to speak
- You can bring a copy of your comments to submit for the record. You can also bring friends’ written comments and submit them on their behalf.