Water utilities, state environmental regulators cautious of invoice that may loosen up oil and fuel tank oversight | Legislative Session

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The West Virginia Division of Environmental Safety’s deputy secretary informed state lawmakers earlier this month the division didn’t assist a proposed invoice that may loosen up oversight of sure oil and fuel tanks situated close to public water intakes.

Scott Mandirola defined to the Home Well being and Human Assets Committee that efforts to stop consuming water contamination from oil and fuel tanks wouldn’t be as efficient with out the tank oversight that Home Invoice 2598 would erase.

Mandirola stated 887 tanks would now not be regulated underneath the Aboveground Storage Tank Act as of final month if Home Invoice 2598 grew to become regulation, in response to Division of Environmental Safety information. The DEP at the moment should examine tanks inside zones of crucial concern not less than as soon as each three years; the state defines a zone of crucial concern as consisting of a five-hour water-travel time in streams to a water consumption.

Present regulation additionally requires tank operators to submit spill prevention response plans, in addition to registration and licensed inspection of such tanks.

However Mandirola estimated about 38 tanks can be inspected annually based mostly on present information, a situation during which all 887 can be inspected about as soon as each 23 years.

“The numbers don’t add up,” Mandirola stated.

The Well being and Human Assets Committee disagreed.

“The DEP via their testimony gave quite a lot of assumptions on a number of issues,” Delegate Vernon Criss, R-Wooden, stated.

With the complete Home of Delegates passing the regulatory rollback final week after the Well being and Human Assets Committee signed off on the invoice, the considerations about future relaxed tank oversight that Criss dismissed as assumptions are deep-seated amongst not solely state environmental and well being regulators, however water utilities.

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“We don’t assist that,” stated Todd Grinstead, government director of the West Virginia Rural Water Affiliation, a statewide group of almost 300 water and wastewater techniques. “Clearly, our major concern is defending the supply water for the water therapy plant, and I simply assume anytime you decontrol a tank of that dimension in a zone of crucial concern, that’s a bit little bit of a priority for us.”

The Morgantown Utility Board additionally disapproves of the invoice.

“At Morgantown Utility Board, our mission is the safeguarding of public well being,” Chris Dale, the board’s communications director, wrote in an e-mail. “Subsequently, we oppose HB 2598 and any invoice that loosens regulatory necessities defending our uncooked water assets.”

A joint assertion supplied by Division of Environmental Safety Performing Communications Director Terry Fletcher Friday famous wariness towards the laws from not solely the DEP, however the state Division of Well being and Human Assets.

“DHHR and WVDEP have considerations concerning HB 2598 in its present kind resulting from doubtlessly lowering supply water safety for techniques which will have tanks situated throughout the zone of crucial concern,” Fletcher stated.

West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Megan Hannah stated the utility is “firmly opposed” to “overly broad” exemptions for aboveground storage tanks inside zones of crucial concern. She stated the exemptions proposed by Home Invoice 2598 would make figuring out tanks and defending supply water more difficult.

If the invoice turns into regulation, Hannah stated West Virginia American Water would proceed to work intently with the Division of Environmental Safety and the Division of Well being and Human Assets to know and mitigate dangers upstream of its water therapy plant intakes.

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In its closing report on the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill that contaminated the consuming water provide for 300,000 individuals and prompted the Legislature to cross Aboveground Storage Tank Act shortly thereafter, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board advisable supply water safety plans be up to date not less than each three years or when there’s a substantial change in potential sources of serious contamination inside a zone of crucial concern.

The board additionally advisable water utilities assess the capabilities of their water therapy techniques to deal with and take away potential leaks from all potential sources of serious contamination inside their zone of crucial concern.

However the Morgantown Utility Board is worried that if Home Invoice 2598 turns into regulation, the board will now not have the ability to get info referring to aboveground storage tanks exempted by the invoice.

“Whereas we are going to proceed the rigorous uncooked and handled water monitoring that we at the moment carry out, the extra info we’ve got, the higher ready we might be,” Dale stated. “And for us, preparedness is a key element of defending public well being.”

Supporters of Home Invoice 2598 within the oil and fuel trade say the laws would keep away from opposed environmental impacts and relieve struggling operators incurring what they are saying are sometimes prohibitive prices of complying with the regulation in its present kind.

A 2016 state legislative rule established a registration price of $40 per tank for all tanks in service previous to July 1, 2015, and $20 per tank for tanks positioned into service since then; an working price of $201 per tank per 12 months for tanks inside zones of crucial concern; and an annual response price that varies to be reviewed yearly.

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The 2014 Elk River chemical spill occurred when a mix of a coal-cleaning solvent generally known as Four-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) and polyglycol ethers escaped via holes on the ground of an aboveground storage tank on the Freedom Industries chemical storage and distribution facility in Charleston.

Grinstead stated the West Virginia Rural Water Affiliation has a Capitol-based lobbyist and signaled its opposition to Home Invoice 2598 to legislators.

The invoice has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which didn’t take into account the invoice in a gathering Monday afternoon, taking over payments which have been pending in committee longer. Neither the committee’s chair, Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, nor its vice chair, Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, could possibly be reached for remark.

“It might launch the accountability to have the tanks inspected and licensed on a three-year rotating foundation, so due to this fact, tanks may go some time not being inspected and probably have leaks that go undetected,” Grinstead stated. “In order that sort of considerations us.”

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