Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act Drafted in Senate

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

WASHINGTON (AP & WSAZ) -- After chemicals oozed into West Virginia's biggest water system, federal and state officials are demanding investigations and tighter laws to safeguard against future spills.

At the federal level, the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act would create tighter regulatory control of chemical companies. It was drafted by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Key principles in the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act include:

  • Requiring regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities,

  • Requiring industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans that meet at least minimum guidelines established in this bill,

  • Allowing states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies, and

  • Ensuring drinking water systems have the tools and information to respond to emergencies.

West Virginia state officials want an inventory of all chemical storage sites in the state.

There's also demand for forcing facilities to stay away from the banks of water bodies, particularly ones providing drinking water.

And lawmakers want facilities like those run by Freedom Industries, which was responsible for the spill in Charleston, to be subjected to environmental inspections.

The state House has cleared a bill with grants, loans and tax relief for small businesses hurt by a days-long water-use ban. Delegates could also consider an income tax break for the affected nine-county region's taxpayers.

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