CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The legislation creating stricter regulations and stronger emergency preparedness guidelines following the recent massive chemical leak only awaits the signature of the governor before becoming law.With two hours left in the 2014 legislative session the House of Delegates agreed to the slight changes made Friday night by the Senate to Senate Bill 373, sending the bill to the desk of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin backs the bill as it stands now."He supports the bill as amended on the Senate floor last night that includes the fees to run the program," said Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin
The measure comes after calls for change in the wake of a faulty storage tank leaking thousands of gallons of chemicals into the local water supply, tainting the tap water of 300,000 West Virginia residents.The bill creates a new regulatory program for aboveground storage tanks and mandates water utilities work on emergency contingency plans with their local communities.It also requires the state Department of Environmental Protection must increase oversight of facilities with such tanks, especially those near public water intakes, and states the Bureau for Public Health must pursue a longterm study of the potential health affects the recent leak could have on the affected community.Although the Senate introduced the bill, the House significantly changed the measure, creating many of the provisions as they stand in the legislation today. A fee exemption proposed by the House for the oil and gas industry-and potentially every facility regulated by the bill-was nixed in the Senate.