U.S. Senate Committee Advances Water Protection Act
The State Journal
3 April 2014
By Mandi Cardosi
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works advanced
a bill that could potentially help the rest of the country protect
their drinking water.
The bill was amended in committee, where the amendment passed on a
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., sponsored the bill and worked with
others including U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. and U.S. Rep.
Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. on the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water
Protection Act of 2014.
The act "amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to direct the
administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or each
state exercising primary enforcement responsibility for public
water systems to carry out a state chemical storage facility
source water protection program."
Read the introduced version of the bill HERE.
It also requires a program for oversight and inspection 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, including a covered chemical storage
facility located pursuant to a source water qualify assessment."
"Covered chemical storage facility" is defined as "a facility at
which a chemical is stored and the Administrator or state
determines that a release from the facility poses a risk of harm
to a public water system."
Manchin, although not on the committee, was in attendance when the
bill was passed and will now head to the Senate floor.
"We are very grateful for this bill," Manchin said of West
Virginians. "It will give every state the authority and
responsibility to go check their waterways."
Manchin re-iterated that the chemical leak that occurred in the
Mountain State could have happened anywhere, but with the proper
regulations and legislation it could be prevented.
He said the bill will help state's go onto properties like Freedom
Industries, the site of the Jan. 9 chemical spill, and find out
more about the chemicals that are being stored there. As well as
the chemical's effects on humans.
"It's a proud day, I think, for West Virginia," Sen. Barbara
Boxer, D-Ca., said of advancing the bill. "People in West Virginia
deserve to have their spirits lifted."
The bill will now go to the U.S. Senate floor for approval.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) also released a statement on
"ACC supports Congressional efforts to ensure unfortunate
events like the one that affected thousands of lives in West
Virginia do not happen in the future. We commend Senator Manchin
for his leadership on this important issue and for his commitment
to continue working in a bipartisan manner to achieve sensible
legislation that would strengthen public safety through enhanced
regulation of chemical storage tanks. While we are still
evaluating the details of today's amendment to S. 1961, we welcome
the progress that has apparently been made by Senators Manchin,
Boxer and Vitter to refine the bill. ACC looks forward to working
with the Senate as the bill makes its way to the floor.
"We are hopeful that in addition to finding ways for states to
prevent incidents like the one in West Virginia, members will also
be spurred to move forward on legislation that is currently
pending before the Committee to update the federal Toxic
Substances Control Act (TSCA). ACC strongly supports the Chemical
Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), compromise legislation introduced
by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator David Vitter and
Senator Tom Udall. With 25 bipartisan cosponsors, the CSIA
requires that all chemicals in commerce undergo a safety
evaluation, including 'grandfathered' chemicals; gives EPA more
authority to request additional information about chemicals from
manufacturers and processors; increases the transparency of
information about chemicals; and enhances cooperation between
state and federal regulators. We urge Committee leadership to act
on the CSIA."
The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection
Act would require regular state inspections of all above
ground chemical storage tanks and more frequent inspections of
those tanks located near drinking water sources and those tanks
storing high hazard chemicals. It sets minimum federal standards
that chemical tanks must meet – including construction and leak
detection requirements, secondary containment standards, the
development of emergency response plans, and financial
responsibility requirements. Additionally, companies must inform
the state, the Environmental Protection Agency, and local water
systems of the chemicals they store.