W.Va. governor pushes bill tightening chemical storage regs

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin plans to file a bill that would tighten regulations for chemical storage facilities, following the spill that left 300,000 people in his state without water for days.

The Democratic governor pushed for passage of a regulatory program for chemical storage on Monday.


The bill hopes to address safety flaws that led to 7,500 gallons of a coal-cleaning chemical to seep into West Virginia's Elk River from a plant operated by Freedom Industries, The Washington Post reports.

Since Freedom Industries' facility did not manufacture chemicals, produce emissions or store chemicals underground, cracks in its containment wall and other safety violations went undetected. The facility was not subject to environmental regulations under the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

And the chemical that spilled was not considered hazardous enough for additional regulation.

While below-ground chemical storage tanks must abide by environmental regulations, above-ground ones do not.

Tomblin's bill -- like one introduced by Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Voters split on eliminating the filibuster: poll OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (D-W.Va.) on Friday -- would mandate inspections of above-ground chemical tanks and require water systems to draft emergency plans for possible spills.

“This proposed legislation will ensure that all above-ground storage facilities are built and maintained consistent with required safety standards,” Tomblin said on Monday.

Manchin's bill, announced on Friday with co-sponsors Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-Va.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), would set federal standards for state-run regulatory efforts.

Both bills would make the locations and specifics of chemical storage facilities available to the public.