WV House Passes Bill Easing Regulation of Aboveground Storage Tanks Near Drinking Water Intakes

In 2014, a leak from an aboveground storage tank on the Elk River just above the drinking water intake for Charleston and much of Kanawha County polluted drinking water for 300,000 consumers. As a result the West Virginia Legislature passed the Aboveground Storage Tank Act imposing strict safety and inspection rules on such tanks.  Almost immediately, industry began a campaign to weaken the Act.

In the 2022 Regular Session of the West Virginia Legislature, bills were introduced in both the House and Senate designed to alter the definition of aboveground storage tank to exclude tanks of 210 barrels or less, even if they were located in the “zone of critical concern” near a public drinking water intake. This same approach was attempted by industry last session, but was derailed at the last minute in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Perhaps to avoid that same fate, the House Energy and Manufacturing Committee generated a substitute bill that reflected a “compromise.” The substitute bill removes the former language changing the definition of aboveground storage tanks, but achieves much the same result by inserting language that exempts small storage tanks from coverage under the Act — even those within the zone of critical concern — while imposing a yearly self-inspection and self-certification obligation on the owners of such tanks.

On February 15, the House passed the substitute bill by a vote of 77-22.  Voting in favor of the bill were Delegates Clark (Jefferson), Espinosa (Jefferson), Forsht (Berkeley), Honaker (Greenbrier), Horst (Berkeley), Hott (Grant, Mineral), Householder (Berkeley), Howell (Mineral), Longanaker (Greenbrier),  Reed (Berkeley), Rowan (Hampshire), and Ward (Hardy).

Voting against the bill were Delegates Barrett (Berkeley), Doyle (Jefferson), Nestor (Randolph) and Thompson (Randolph).

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Read more here.