The West Virginia legislature is currently looking at Senate Bill 423 which would scale back some of the regulations of Aboveground Storage Tanks (“ASTs”) put into place in 2014 following the Elk River chemical spill.
The proposed legislation would exempt approximately 36,000 ASTs from inspections and regulations that were established by Senate Bill 373 which passed in April 2014 and became effective in June 2014.
The primary purpose of this new bill is to acknowledge some of the overreaching and unnecessary elements of SB 373, which was presented to the legislature at the height of the Elk River chemical spill catastrophe that left roughly 300,000 people without safe drinking water and forced the closure of schools, courts, and various businesses. Proponents of the new bill state that SB 373 was reactionary in many regards and inflicted unnecessary burdens on safe tanks that were already governed by state and federal regulations.
In contrast, SB 423 would focus on tanks in close proximity to zones of critical concern, including near flowing water sources, as well as tanks containing hazardous materials and large tanks holding more than 50,000 gallons of materials. Opponents to the bill argue that the effects of the chemical spill are still widespread and that the priority of the state should be safety.
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to look at this bill soon. The current legislative session ends on March 14. The full text of the bill can be found here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=SB423%20SUB1%20eng.htm&yr=2015&sesstype=RS&i=423
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