Ashton Marra Published

West Virginia Storage Tank Website Up and Running

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP

Members of the public now have full access to comments collected by the state Department of Environmental Protection on a newly passed law. That law requires the DEP to create a regulatory program for above ground storage tanks in order to protect the state’s water.

The Above Ground Storage Tank section of the state DEP’s website isn’t fully complete. Some pages are still under construction, but for now, members of the public have access to the language of Senate Bill 373, a bill written in response to the January 9 chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated the drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians.

The site also contains links to organizations that create standards for tanks, definitions of terms and contacts at the DEP who deal with tank policy.

What you can’t find, however, are specific regulations for above ground storage tanks in West Virginia because they just don’t exist yet.

Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management, told a legislative committee last week they’re in the process of writing those regulations which must be approved by the legislature during the 2015 session.

But before they complete the new rules, the DEP is reaching out to stakeholders and members of the public for their input on what they think should be included. Those comments are fully accessible on the DEP’s site, which is a result of many of the public comments themselves.

The site contains comments from more than 60 individuals, 20 organizations and 16 businesses.

Many of the public remarks and some from organizations were very similar in nature and even format. The West Virginia Rivers Coalition provided a template for multiple grassroots like Friends of Water and the West Virginia Citizen Action Group who then passed them on to members.

Those comments asked for transparency in the process, the closing of regulatory loopholes and adequate fees to cover the administrative costs of creating a regulatory program.

Some comments from business and industry representatives asked the DEP to consider regulatory programs they are already subject to when writing new rules to avoid a duplicative process that could harm businesses.

For example, the West Virginia Coal Association called any further rules to regulate tanks at mine sites unnecessary and said additional regulations would only confuse and frustrate the agency’s ability to carry out its current inspection process.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association commented increased compliance costs associated with regulations, like fees for signs on tanks, could outweigh the profits at some drilling sites and cause a loss in production.

Senate Bill 373 requires the tank registration process to begin on June 6, which Mandirola said they will be ready for, but he anticipated the electronic registration site to go live on June 10, allowing them to deal with technical issues at the beginning of the week.

The DEP is asking tank owners who are not already registered in its Electronic Permitting or Electronic Submission System to go ahead and create a username on their site to streamline the process.

The DEP also has an online quiz available to see if you tank falls under the guidelines of Senate Bill 373.