Ashton Marra Published

Tomblin Signs Bill Scaling Back DEP Tank Oversight


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill that would scale back the Above Ground Storage Tank Act and lessen the number of tanks under state scrutiny.

The 2014 law was approved after a chemical leak tainted the drinking water supply for 300,000 people in the Kanawha Valley.

Under the 2014 tank act, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection was required to register and inspect all above ground storage tanks in the state, with some minor exemptions. In all, the DEP found more than 50,000 would be under their purview.

Lawmakers this year looked to reduce the burden on both the DEP and some industries, including agriculture and oil and gas.

The new law (SB 423) focuses oversight to tanks containing certain hazardous materials, those containing 50,000 gallons or more of any substance, and tanks located in zones of critical concern, or within so many miles of a public drinking water intake.

“The bill that was passed last year was really to protect the drinking water of the people of West Virginia. The bill continued to grow and really got a little bit unmanageable,” Tomblin said of the bill on The Legislature Today in early March.

The new law will leave just 5,000 above ground storage tanks under DEP purview.

Many environmentalists spoke out against the bill saying it puts the state’s drinking water at risk.