Chemical Leak
3:58 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Governor Signs Bill to Protect W.Va.'s Water

On the same day West Virginia American Water workers began changing carbon filters at their Charleston filtration plant, Gov. Tomblin signed a bill designed to prevent future chemical leaks, like the one that affected that company’s customers, from ever happening again.

Gov. Tomblin was surrounded by members of both the House and Senate as he signed SB 373.
Gov. Tomblin was surrounded by members of both the House and Senate as he signed SB 373.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Tomblin was joined by House and Senate leaders at the Capitol Tuesday to sign Senate Bill 373, a bill that requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to establish an above-ground storage tank inspection program.

Along with inspections, the bill sets regulatory standards for tanks, calls on the state Bureau for Public Health to look a the long term health effects on the population and requires public drinking water systems to create source water protection plans by July 2015.

The bill’s original sponsor, Senate Majority Leader John Unger, called the public outcry in the days and weeks after the Elk River chemical spill vital to the legislation.

W.Va. Senate Majority Leader John Unger called the bill historic, saying in 16 years of experience, he had never seen a bill unanimously passed by both chambers twice as this bill had during the legislative process.
W.Va. Senate Majority Leader John Unger called the bill historic, saying in 16 years of experience, he had never seen a bill unanimously passed by both chambers twice as this bill had during the legislative process.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“Because of the magnitude of this piece of legislation and what went into it, it kept all of us, as legislators, the governor, the governor’s office, honest and focused on the public interest versus other interests,” he said before the signing.

However, much of the implementation, rules and standards under the bill have not yet been written. Those specifics have been left in the hands of the DEP to write in coming months.