Jan 20 West Virginia's governor on Monday
proposed legislation to regulate above-ground storage tanks, a
move that comes after a spill of coal-processing chemicals shut
off drinking water to about 300,000 people.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the proposed rules would
regulate above-ground tanks, including those near public water
supplies and distribution systems.
"The discharge of chemicals or other contaminants into our
water supply is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,"
Tomblin, a Democrat, said in a joint statement with U.S. Senator
Joe Manchin, also a Democrat, and the heads of the state Senate
and House of Delegates.
Tomblin said the legislation would in part assure that
above-ground tanks were built and maintained in line with safety
About 300,000 people around Charleston, the state capital,
were banned from using tap water for anything but flushing
toilets following the Jan. 9 spill of 4-methylcyclohexane
methanol, or crude MCHM, into the Elk River.
The spill from a Freedom Industries tank was about a mile
(1.6 km) upriver from the area's main water plant, West Virginia
American Water, a unit of American Water Works Company Inc
Tomblin declared a state of emergency while the chemical,
used in coal processing, was flushed out of the water system.
West Virginia authorities completely lifted the ban on the
use of tap water on Saturday, but advised pregnant women to
continue using alternative water sources.
Tomblin said the legislation would allow the state
Department of Environmental Protection to implement an
above-ground tank regulation program that would require
operators to report tanks' location, construction and
It also requires annual inspections and certifications and
allows the head of the environmental agency to order a plant to
take corrective action when storing potentially harmful
material. Plants also would have to submit spill prevention
plans for each tank.
Tomblin said the legislation would not duplicate state and
Freedom Industries, a maker of specialty chemicals, filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday.