Tuesday morning U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin teamed up with Sen. Barbara Boxer of California (Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee) to introduce the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, which gathers into one place the tools to provide oversight of chemical facilities.
The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act includes common sense measures designed to ensure industrial facilities are properly inspected by state officials and both the chemical industry and emergency response agencies are prepared for future chemical incidents or emergencies.
Senators Rockefeller, Manchin, and Boxer said the bill would strengthen states’ ability to prevent chemical spills like the January 9th spill that contaminated the water supply in nine West Virginia counties and impacted more than 300,000 West Virginians.
Key principles in the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act include:
• Requiring regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities,
• Requiring industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans that meet at least minimum guidelines established in this bill,
• Allowing states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies, and
• Ensuring drinking water systems have the tools and information to respond to emergencies.
“No West Virginian or American should have to worry about the contamination of their water supply from a chemical spill. This common sense bill makes sure all chemicals are appropriately monitored and protects the safety of the water we consume and use every day, ” said Manchin.
Boxer said the concern over access to clean safe water is “critical.”
“Our legislation makes it clear that if a chemical poses a risk to a water supply, it will be subject to safe practices so we won’t see this anxiety unleashed again,” she said in a joint statement released by the lawmakers Tuesday morning.
“It’s clear more could have been done more to protect the water supply for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians,” Senator Rockefeller said.
“This bill takes a first step toward bringing accountability to companies in the state while protecting West Virginia families and our state’s economy,” Rockefeller added.