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Medical Monitoring Restored To House Chemical Storage Bill; Act Passes Chamber In Unanimous Vote

Reported: Mar. 5, 2014 6:55 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 5, 2014 11:29 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Dan Matics, Heath Harrison, Associated Press) -- The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed the Water Protection Act.

The bill cleared the House in a unanimous vote Wednesday night, following the passage of amendment restoring medical monitoring to the bill. Little is known about long-term health effects of the spilled chemicals.

The bill will head back to the Senate for a final vote.

Lawmakers say the bill reforms a regulatory gray area by adding inspections and registrations at many above-ground storage tanks. About 150 water systems would need protection plans.

The bill requires the water company in the spill to install early detection technology for contaminants or explain why it can't.

The House and Senate need to work out a compromised bill by Saturday's end to the legislative session.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Dan Matics) -- Lawmakers worked into the night Wednesday, hashing out a bill concerning the way chemicals are stored in the wake of the Freedom Industries spill.

The West Virginia House of Delegates was debating the chemical storage bill and big changes have were made during the night.

The Water Protection Act was being taken up on the floor of the House. On Wednesday, lawmakers were going through, voting on many amendments that have been added as the bill has been in committees for the past month.

The big debate, so far, was over medical monitoring, which would legally require a long-term study of the medical impacts of the spill, as well as any future spills.

It was originally taken out in committee, but was voted back in the evening by an amendment proposed by Del. Mesha Poore, D-Kanawha.

"The request is that the Bureau of Public Health take collective information, such as any medical records - if someone has gone to the doctor's office, someone has called poison control to say they had possible side effects - and the bureau will gather that information in a database and store it," Poore said.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Bob Aaron) -- As West Virginia delegates prepare to debate a bill about the January chemical spill, environmental groups said lawmakers are not doing enough to safeguard tanks and water systems.

It has been almost two months since the spill and the call for a water protection act. The House finally expects to get something out Wednesday night. The spill of 10,000 gallons of MCHM at Freedom Industries contaminated water for 300,000 people in nine counties.

Critics said the House Finance Committee stripped crucial protections and removed medical monitoring. Little is known about the long-term health effects of the spilled chemicals.

The committee also deleted a provision to use technology for early detection of chemicals and a more stringent set of permits for some above ground storage tanks near water systems.

Whatever the House ends up with will have to be reconciled before the session ends Saturday night with the version already passed by the Senate.

The House is expected to consider at least a dozen amendments to the Finance version of the bill.



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