Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of new developments concerning West Virginia’s Aboveground Storage Tank Act. The act was passed last year after a chemical spill left more than 300,000 people in Charleston and the surrounding area without water for more than a week. The new law was intended to regulate 50,000 aboveground storage tanks in the state.
However, with the new developments, the law’s regulatory oversight could be reduced to only 4% of the state’s tanks, which would come out to about 1,800 tanks.
HB 2574 was introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates as a revision to the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. One of the requirements of the Act was that all of the storage tanks in the state be registered with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and inspected. Registration was completed over the course of 2014, and the DEP found that 5,300 aboveground storage tanks “pose a threat to the public in some way.” However, according to West Virginia Metro News, HB 2574 would change the Act so that it regulates only a third of these potentially dangerous tanks.
“Of those 5,300, which are the ones we’re concerned about or that we think are the highest priority because they pose the highest risk, of those this legislation would only regulate about a third of them,” said Randy Huffman of HB 2574 – the proposed revisions to the Aboveground Storage Tank Act.
The bill was introduced in the house by Delegate Bob Ashley, R-Roane, who said that the intention of the bill was to reduce double regulation on these tanks deemed to be potential problem tanks, as they may already be certified under standards set by the American Petroleum Institute or the Steel Tank Institute.
However, a report released by environmental consulting company Downstream Strategies noted that in addition to the tanks found by the DEP to be potential problem tanks, “thousands of additional tanks are located within five miles of surface water or groundwater intakes.” The report encouraged “strict regulation for other tanks that can easily contaminate surface water or groundwater intakes.”
Operating and Response Fees
The DEP also recently submitted a proposal “to include one-time tank registration fees as well as annual operating and response fees to the Aboveground Storage Tank Program.” Annual operating and response fees for the highest risk tanks, deemed level 1, would be $375 and $25 respectively.