WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr

Storage Tank Bill Changes Met With Concern

Reported: Mar. 4, 2014 10:37 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 5, 2014 4:50 PM EST

News Image

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- Frustrations are boiling after a measure aimed at avoiding another water crisis is now stripped of many of its provisions.

Senate Bill 373 was filed just more than a week after the Jan. 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries that tainted the water supply for 300,000 people. The main intention of the bill was to regulate chemical storage tanks, and require regular inspections. The legislation quickly made it through the Senate, but has been changed as it made its way through committees in the House.

Monday night, there was a major blow dealt to supporters of the law. The House Finance Committee took out some key components, including long-term health monitoring of medical problems resulting from exposure to the tainted water.

Now, there are efforts under way hoping to save the bill.

"It's time we do something," a protester said.

A small gathering, but strong words, during a protest including several environmental groups at the state Capitol Tuesday Those attending were angry that after weeks of public input, and progress made in getting stronger chemical storage regulation and public protection measures on the books, all aimed at preventing another water crisis, which are efforts that now seem wasted.

"It's very frustrating to come and kind of see the hours of work and compromise . . . some closed door meetings, to know those happen and know that those happen and then see amendments that strip out kind of the guts of the bill," said Karan Ireland of the newly formed Citizens Actively Protecting the Envrionment.

The House Finance Committee sided with an apparently strong group of lobbyists, who pushed to protect chemical companies. In the process, some say Senate Bill 373 was left with a lot of loopholes that would not stop another crisis. A provision that would have given the Bureau of Public Health the OK to monitor medical problems linked to the water crisis long-term was removed, as was a stipulation to require West Virginia American Water to install a higher grade detection system, that would have cost the water company $150,000.

"We voted on a couple of amendments that I don't think many of the members understood what they were doing," said Del. Nancy Peoples Guthrie, D-Kanawha.

But the disappointment about those votes is clear. For example, Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department believes some of the committee's concerns about the cost of medical monitoring could have been solved with compromise.

"If it was a true financial issue, there was nothing preventing those members not comfortable with a really high cost to put a cap there, say we're not going to spend more than $1 million or $2 million," Gupta said.

Aside from the heated debate about what is actually in the law, there is another big problem at stake: time. It's running out, with just four days left in session to pass a bill.

But lawmakers still insist the storage tank bill is a top priority.

"We're not done yet. Probably what you'll see are a bunch of amendments on the floor, and I'm hopeful that'll happen. And if it doesn't, it's a travesty," Peoples Guthrie said.

While there's a lot of attention on what has now been taken out of the bill, lawmakers insist there has been some good progress. The proposal now calls for all chemical facilities to be regulated the same, regardless if they're a major corporation or "fly-by-night" operation.

Next up, the bill goes before the full House Wednesday for debate, and environmentalists are calling for people to fill the chamber to make their voices heard.

Charleston Fire Under Investigation
Jul. 25, 2014 7:04 PM EDT
Investigators are trying to determine what caused a ...
Full News Story

Huntington Residents Glad To See City's Commitment To Fighting Drugs
Jul. 25, 2014 7:29 PM EDT
Ten new officers will be hired to dedicate to drug ...
Full News Story and Video

Refunds Coming To Dirty Girl Registrants Who Used Self Service Ticketing Agency
Jul. 25, 2014 7:29 PM EDT
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office announced ...
Full News Story and Video

News Saints Tight End Graham Returns In Form, And With Humor
Jul. 25, 2014 7:30 PM EDT
News Rockefeller Elected To Colonial Williamsburg Panel
Jul. 25, 2014 5:02 PM EDT
News Woman Convicted In Skylar Neese Slaying Moved To Mason County
Jul. 25, 2014 5:16 PM EDT
News Man Pleads Guilty To Sexual Assault Charge
Jul. 25, 2014 7:30 PM EDT
News Old Crow Medicine Show Slated For Power Park
Jul. 25, 2014 7:30 PM EDT
News Tractor-Trailer Fire At East Mountain River Tunnel Shuts Down I-77
Jul. 25, 2014 7:31 PM EDT
News Rabel To Kick Off Independent Campaign For Congress
Jul. 25, 2014 5:04 PM EDT
News Hospice Of Huntington Hosts Sidewalk Sale
Jul. 25, 2014 7:31 PM EDT
News U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin Sued By Brother Over Loan
Jul. 25, 2014 1:32 PM EDT
News Search Under Way For Missing Man In Roane County
Jul. 25, 2014 9:06 PM EDT
News Belle Of Cincinnati Offers Sunday River Cruises
Jul. 25, 2014 3:00 PM EDT
News Man Injured In Motorcycle Accident
Jul. 25, 2014 12:48 PM EDT
News Huntington Classic Regatta Under Way
Jul. 25, 2014 1:08 PM EDT
News WV Clinic Operator's Medical License Suspended
Jul. 25, 2014 7:33 PM EDT
News Fletcher's Grove, Donna The Buffalo Featured Acts This Evening At Live On The Levee
Jul. 25, 2014 7:33 PM EDT
News Saints Coach Says Facilities Are "Pretty Amazing"
Jul. 25, 2014 1:22 PM EDT
News PETA Opposes Using Animals In WV Testing
Jul. 25, 2014 12:01 PM EDT
News Man Accused Of Stealing ATV, Crashing After Pursuit
Jul. 25, 2014 12:58 PM EDT
News Junior Troopers To Graduate Academy
Jul. 25, 2014 7:35 PM EDT
News Blood Drive Held In Downtown Charleston Friday
Jul. 25, 2014 8:37 AM EDT
News WV State To Hold Emergency Drill Friday
Jul. 25, 2014 8:18 AM EDT
News Man Stabbed In Charleston
Jul. 25, 2014 7:46 AM EDT
News 5 Alarm Mud Run To Benefit Fire Department
Jul. 25, 2014 1:10 PM EDT
News Autopsy Backlog Affecting Police Work
Jul. 25, 2014 9:03 AM EDT
News Huntington Council Votes To Hire New Police Officers
Jul. 24, 2014 11:28 PM EDT
News Library Levy Headed Back To Ballot
Jul. 25, 2014 2:31 PM EDT
News Kanawha Commission Files Petition To Remove Plants From Office
Jul. 25, 2014 8:49 AM EDT
News St. Albans Team Heading To Regionals
Jul. 25, 2014 1:21 PM EDT
News Vigil Held For Gaza Peace; Group Opposes Israeli Policy
Jul. 25, 2014 8:49 AM EDT
News Picnic With The Saints Set For This Weekend At The Greenbrier
Jul. 24, 2014 11:34 PM EDT

Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
Tunnel fire stops traffic near W.Va., Va. border

A fire inside the East River Tunnel near West Virginia's border with Virginia has stopped traffic on Interstate 77.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Keeneland postpones instant racing plan

A Keeneland official says the race track doesn't want construction under way when next year's Breeders' Cup is held there and is putting off plans to build a facility for instant racing.
Full Story

Ohio News
Arizona's McCain: Execution was torture

U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.
Full Story

Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site

Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.