Dave Mistich Published

Video: U.S. Senate Hearing on W.Va. Chemical Spill


Watch video of the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing testimony on the West Virginia chemical spill held February 4.

 The Committee on Environment and Public Works’ water and wildlife subcommittee convened Tuesday on the spill that left 300,000 people without clean water for days.
Scheduled to testify:

  • West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant
  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman
  • Natural Resources Defense Council official Erik Olson
  • Putnam Public Service District General Manager Michael McNulty
  • Lawyer Richard O. Faulk
  • Vice President of Government Affairs, International Liquid Terminals Association Peter Weaver

Senator Jay Rockefeller:

“Industry will resist any new regulations or stronger enforcement measures.  It’s an isolated incident in West Virginia, they will argue.” 

“Agencies in charge of oversight do not need more resources, some will claim.  In fact, Republicans have purposely sought to starve certain agencies of funding so they cannot do their job adequately.  We continue to pay a price for this cynical strategy, ” Rockefeller added.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito:

Capito criticized the CDC for giving the “all clear” threshold of 1 parts per million of MCHM in the water and then advising pregnant women not to consume the water if levels were detected at all. She also took issue with the frequency that information was passed along to the public throughout the ordeal.

“The other thing is this slow bleed of misinformation. It comes out first that you can drink the water, maybe not, then a week later – it might have even been more than a week later – it comes out that there was not just one chemical in the water, of MCHM, there was another chemical that in the water at the same time that was leaked into the Kanawha Valley,” said Capito.

Senator Joe Manchin:

Manchin touted a bill moving through the U.S. Senate in response to the spill known as the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act. The bill is co-sponsored by Rockefeller, as well as Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.

“Our bill would require regular state inspections of all above ground chemical storage facilities and more frequent inspections of those facilities located near drinking water sources,” said Manchin at the hearing. 

“It sets minimum federal standards that chemical facilities must meet – including construction and leak detection requirements, fail safe containment standards, the development of emergency response plans, and financial responsibility requirements.”

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Mayland says he thinks the bill has a “pretty good” chance of passing. But House Speaker John Boehner has said there are enough regulations on the books.

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold its counterpart hearing in Charleston on Feb. 10. The committee includes two West Virginia members. They are the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Nick Rahall, and Republican Shelley Moore Capito.