News Feature | April 23, 2014

Senate Advances Bill Regulating Chemical Storage Tanks

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Legislation aimed at protecting the water supply recently moved forward in the Senate. 

The bill, the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014, would amend the Safe Water Drinking Act "to direct the administrator of the EPA or each state exercising primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems to carry out a state chemical storage facility source water protection program," according to the legislation. 

The legislation cleared the Environment and Public Works Committee this month, according to the panel. 

"We are taking significant steps to protect our drinking water supplies from chemical spills," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, who leads the committee, in a statement. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, introduced the bill.  It has support from the state's other senator, Jay Rockefeller, as well. 

Their push for new water legislation began in January after a chemical spill in their home state left 300,000 residents without access to safe drinking water for several days. 

The legislation requires new oversight of chemical storage facilities to "prevent the release of chemicals into the water supply in watersheds with public water systems that rely on surface water,” according to an analysis by the State Journal.

How is West Virginia faring since the spill?

An independent research team recently studied how much of the dangerous chemical is still traceable in tap water, according to WNPR News. 

"The highest levels of the chemical found in the ten-home pilot project was 6.1 parts per billion," said West Virginia public radio reporter David Mistich on WNPR.

WNPR continued: "This is much lower than the CDC threshold of 1000 parts per billion, and West Virginia's screening level at 10 parts per billion. Mistich, a Charleston resident, feels safe drinking the water himself, but he said 'there is an entire faction of people who are not there yet.'" 

For more on policy and politics, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "20130618-RD-LSC-0304," © 2013 USDAgov, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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