Senate Dems push bill to prevent chemical spills

A group of Senate Democrats will push legislation aimed at preventing chemical spills in the wake of West Virginia's leak that left 300,000 residents without clean water for several days.

The state's senators Joe Manchin (D) and Jay Rockefeller (D), along with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced their plan to introduce the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act when Congress returns from recess later this month.

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The legislation bulks up states' powers on oversight of chemical facilities like the Freedom Industries' facility along Elk River, according to a statement from Manchin's office.

"The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd," Rockefeller said in a statement.

"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," he added.

Key elements of the bill include mandating regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities and requiring the industry to craft state-approved emergency response plans.

It also pushes for drinking water systems to have the tools and information necessary to respond to emergencies.

"Today, nearly 150,000 West Virginians still cannot use their tap water and many more are concerned about the long-term effects of this chemical spill," Manchin said. "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."