A process that has been in the making since the Legislature’s passing of the “tank bill” is beginning to come to a close, right before the anniversary of the chemical spill that affected 300,000 Kanawha Valley residents.
A legislative rule required by Senate Bill 373, also known as the aboveground storage tank bill, for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to file with the Secretary of State’s office is now out for public comment.
The WV DEP proposed the 90-page Aboveground Storage Tank rule (47 CSR 63), which was filed this week, and can be found HERE.
DEP has asked for public help every step of the way in drafting the bill. Previously, DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said he wanted the process to be “as open and inclusive as possible.”
“If you have an idea, please feel free to submit it. Your suggestions will help us achieve our goal of making these rules as thorough and as effective in safeguarding public health and the environment as possible,” Huffman said at the beginning of the summer before the rule was drafted.
Among other things, the rule governs the construction, installation, upgrading, use, inspection, maintenance, testing, and closure of aboveground storage tanks. It also establishes three levels for tank regulation based upon potential risk to public health or the environment.
This month, Huffman said only about 8 percent of the 50,000 tanks are in the zone of critical concern, a term created to identify the tanks within a “source water protection area or public surface water influenced groundwater supply source.”
The rule also says tank owners or operators of an aboveground storage tank located “in a zone of critical concern shall annually obtain and annually update the contact information.”
Lawmakers have discussed the possibility of reviewing SB 373 this upcoming session in order to get rid of what they say could be excessive regulations.
Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said he would advise legislators to make sure the bill’s intent remains if there would be changes. New Republican leaders including upcoming Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, said after the Nov. 4 elections, lawmakers would be willing to work with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin should he wish to make changes to the legislation.
Public comments for the rule, will be taken through Jan. 21, 2015. Also on Jan. 21, officials will hold a 6 p.m. public hearing at the DEP headquarters in Kanawha City.
Written comments may be mailed to:
WVDEP Public Information Office
Aboveground Storage Tank Comments
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV 25304
Comments can also be emailed, by Jan. 21, 2015, to WVDEPtankrules@wv.gov. Be sure to write Aboveground Storage Tank Comments in the subject line.
By Mandi Cardosi, Government Reporter