West Virginia House and Senate Judiciary Committees Consider House Bill 2574 / Senate Bill 423 to Alter 2014 Senate Bill 373 (the Aboveground Storage Tank Act)

On February 3, 2015, a bill was introduced to alter the 2014 Senate Bill 373 (the Aboveground Storage Tank Act) by limiting the regulations only to tanks larger than 10,000 gallons and within the “zone of critical concern” of a drinking water intake.  House Bill (HB)2574 (introduced as Senate Bill [SB]423 on February 5) also eliminates the requirement for annual inspection of such tanks and relieves the oil and gas industry from regulation by exempting, “devices that are used to store brines, crude oil, or any other fluids that are directly related to the exploration, development, stimulation, completion, or production of crude oil or natural gas; pipeline facilities, including gathering lines; and liquid traps, atmospheric and pressure vessels, or associated gathering lines related to oil or gas production and gathering operations.”

SB423 passed the Senate on February 28, 2015, followed by the House Judiciary Committee on March 10, 2015.  The bill was sent to the House of Delegates, but will need to return to the Senate because of an amendment by Judiciary members to adjust the size of state commission studying public drinking water issues.

Senate Bill 373 was introduced after a chemical spill contaminated drinking water for 300,000 people in Charleston.  The Senate Bill 373, containing the Aboveground Storage Tank Act §22-30 and the Public Water Supply Protection Act §22-31 was approved by the 2014 Legislature and signed into law by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on April 1, 2014.  The law officially took effect on June 6, 2014, 90 days from its date of passage on March 8, 2014. The bill requires an inventory and registration of aboveground storage tanks.  The bill in its present form is reported to be closer in scope to Governor Tomblin’s initial proposal rather than the version signed into law.

The new bill appears to exempt many of the state’s 50,000 aboveground storage tanks from more stringent rules approved after the spill.  The legislation made West Virginia one of the strictest states in the nation for regulating aboveground storage tanks, which are generally left out of federal environmental rules.  The measures being considered to amend the law would raise the minimum size of tanks covered by the stricter rules to more than 10,000 gallons from more than 1,320 gallons.  It would exempt other tanks that sit outside a “zone of critical concern” defined currently as within 1,000 feet of a river at a point where water takes less than five hours to flow to a drinking-water intake.

EHS Support will continue to track the progress of the West Virginia Aboveground Storage Tank Act.  We have personnel based in West Virginia to assist with understanding and implementing aboveground storage tank requirements.

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