A year ago, Charleston, West Virginia was consumed by a drinking water crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of citizens in West Virginia’s capital city were not drinking the water.
And for good reason.
In January 2014, about 7,500 gallons of a toxic chemical mixture leaked from a Freedom Industries tank into the Elk River, and then downstream into a drinking water facility.
In the wake of the spill, the legislature passed a bill that would regulate thousands of above-ground tanks across the state.
What a difference a year makes.
At the behest of the oil, natural gas and chemical industries, our elected representatives, including Senator Charles Trump and Senator Craig Blair, have introduced legislation (SB 423/HB 2574) that would exempt thousands of tanks from the above ground tank law — leaving only 90 tanks still subject to the safety law.
According to an analysis by Downstream Strategies and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, “only 90 tanks would still be regulated should these bills become law — this represents just 0.2% of the tanks that are currently regulated.”
According to the analysis, the legislation would drastically reduce the number of tanks subject to the Aboveground Storage Tank Act by exempting tanks outside of zones of critical concern, tanks that store 10,000 gallons or less, tanks associated with the oil and gas industry, tanks certified to be operated and maintained in accordance with American Petroleum Institute or Steel Tank Institute standards, a groundwater protection plan, or a spill prevention, control, and countermeasures program.
“The bill is an extreme gutting of the protections the legislature passed unanimously last year,” said Angie Rosser of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “It makes us question if anything was learned at all from the water crisis, as this essentially returns us to where we were with under-regulated above-ground storage tanks threatening our water.”