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Federal Legislation Boosting Oversight Of Chemical Tanks Advances

Reported: Apr. 3, 2014 3:12 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (AP, Heath Harrison) -- A Senate panel has cleared a bill that would boost state oversight of chemical storage facilities, following the West Virginia chemical spill.

The Environment and Public Works committee in a bipartisan voice vote Thursday advanced the measure. The bill would require states to inspect chemical storage facilities regularly and to identify tanks near drinking water supplies. Companies would also have to develop state-approved emergency plans.

The tank that leaked a coal-cleaning chemical into a West Virginia river in January was upstream from a drinking water source serving 300,000 residents, but it was rarely inspected. For days, residents were told to not drink the water.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., spearheaded the legislation, and said no one should have their drinking water tainted by chemicals.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., reacted the bill’s advancement.

“The hundreds of thousands of West Virginians still dealing with the aftermath of the January chemical spill along the Elk River got assurances today that the federal government is focused on making sure such a terrible catastrophe never happens again,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “This bill moves us in the right direction toward closing the egregious regulatory gaps that led to that horrific disaster, and it holds those accountable for the cleanup costs of any future spill so that taxpayers aren’t unfairly left with footing the bill. Now it’s time for the full Senate to act on this legislation that will protect the drinking water in communities across West Virginia and the nation.”

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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