Activists Say Weakening of Tank Bill Puts Water Supply at Risk

Feb 9, 2015

Groups lobbying for strong regulations to protect that state’s water resources gathered at the Capitol Monday to tell lawmakers not to pass a bill they say will gut the above ground storage tank legislation passed last year.

The West Virginia Safe Water Roundtable, comprised of multiple citizen action groups and affiliated with the Our Children, Our Future Campaign, spoke out against House Bill 2574.

Activist Karan Ireland speaks as a group holds a clean water banner during a press conference at the state Capitol.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Activists called the legislation insulting after the time they, industry representatives and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spent over the past year negotiating the terms of an above ground storage tank regulation program that resulted from last year’s approved legislation.

That legislation, Senate Bill 373, was passed just weeks after a chemical spill tainted the water supply for 300 thousand residents in the Kanawha Valley.

“I could remind you that despite its strength, Senate Bill 373 is nevertheless a compromise and concessions to industry were made along the way and I could point out that 1,100 tanks have already been designated not fit for service and that Senate Bill 373 is already working,” activist Karan Ireland said at a press conference Monday.

“Instead, I'd like to speak directly to the sponsors of these bills. What you are doing is wrong.”

Sponsors of House Bill 2574 say the legislation aims at reducing instances of double regulation for many tank owners and focuses on those holding 10 thousand gallons of fluid or more near a public drinking water supply.

Interest groups maintain the change would leave thousands of tanks in the state unregulated.