Earlier this year after a chemical spill released 7,500 gallons of the chemical MCHM into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia, more than 300,000 residents of West Virginia were left without a safe source of drinking water for several weeks. The spill highlighted the importance of storage tank safety procedures and raised a vocal movement for stricter regulations in the state. In the recently concluded legislative session, the state passed a law that “regulates aboveground chemical storage tanks and requires a study of the long-term health effects of the Jan. 9 Elk River spill,” reports the West Virginia Gazette.
Notable provisions of the new law include:
- All chemical storage tanks must be inspected annually, either by the state or by industry-hired engineers.
- Water utilities must create source-water protection plans as well as emergency response plans that would enable them to efficiently deal with a spill or related emergency.
- A long-term study will be commissioned to observe the health effects of the chemical spill.
- Details of storage tank safety standards will be written by the Department of Environmental Protection and submitted for legislative review in the 2015 session.